Watts, the international property and construction consultant, has asked its staff to take a 10% pay cut because it expects this year’s turnover to be down 14% on the £27m recorded last year

Watts will save about £1m from the pay cuts. The cash will go into what it is calling a “contingency reserve”. In a year’s time, if the market has improved the firm will use the money to start paying staff their former levels of salary and, possibly, bonuses.

Jo Stocks, the chief executive of Watts, said: “We would rather cut salaries than make people redundant. If we let any more go we would be cutting the lifeblood of the firm.

Stocks added that the firm would continue to expand this year, and had plans to form a joint venture with a local player in Abu Dhabi and buy a project management firm in the north of England.