Consultant’s profit nearly doubles as it announces first annual results since move to limited liability partnership

Consultant EC Harris says its decision to become a limited liability partnership has been an unqualified success.

The firm changed its legal status from partnership to LLP in late 2003 and posted its first results at Companies House at the start of the year.

The step was followed by rivals Gardiner & Theobald and Davis Langdon, both of which switched to LLP status last year.

Richard Clare, chairman of EC Harris, said the move was neither bureaucratic nor expensive. He said the bill for the switch, which included a four-person in-house team as well as legal and accounting costs, had been in the hundreds of thousands.

Clare said: “It’s been absolutely fine. A lot of people were telling me it’s not going to be straightforward, but it was. As long as it’s properly managed it’s fine.”

He said he was pleased with the way the change created a clearer structure and reduced the risk to partners. He added: “It’s sheltering the risk at a sensible level.”

People told me it wouldn’t be straightforward, but it was

Richard Clare, chairman, EC Harris

Clare added that the move had not affected the firm’s partnership culture. “That’s absolutely intact and all the members of the firm value that enormously.”

In its first results since the move, turnover rose £17m to £145m for the year to 30 April 2004; pre-tax profit nearly doubled to £15m. The firm now expects to turn over about £160m for the year to 30 April.

Clare said there were “tremendous opportunities” in the future for the firm based on a wider service offering to clients. These included corporate property advice, traditional quantity surveying and project managing. He said: “We often don’t talk about particular services any more. We talk about how we can improve our clients’ business.”

Clare said the firm would concentrate its international operation in the Gulf, north-east Asia and across Europe, but ruled out setting up offices in America.