Consultant says more job losses unlikely after cutting 150 in move to centralise support services
Consultant WS Atkins is ruling out further large-scale job losses after announcing this week that it will axe 150 out of 450 posts when it centralises its support services divisions.

Ric Piper, the firm's finance director, said Atkins was a growing company and was unlikely to prune staff back again.

He said: "I'd be surprised if there are more large-scale job losses when there's so much work to do and we are growing. These job cuts are from back room staff." However the company has said that as few as 50 of the remaining 300 staff may want to relocate to the new centre, under construction on the outskirts of Worcester.

Any staff that opt not to relocate will be replaced with locally recruited labour.

Piper said that Atkins would seek voluntary redundancies, but that compulsory cuts would be made if necessary.

The job losses are part of chief executive Robin Southwell's restructuring plan, revealed in Building last week. The plan is expected to cost a total of £10m, mainly in redundancy payments.

The move is expected to save Atkins £2m in the financial year 2002/3 and £4m in 2003/4.

All of Atkins' UK and support services staff will be moved to the Worcester base. They work in shared services such as the accounting, IT, payroll and marketing divisions.

I’d be surprised if there are more large-scale job losses

Ric Piper, finance director, Atkins

Most of the redundancies will come in accounting, human resources, marketing and IT.

New software will be used at the new base to increase productivity.

The group said the decision to centralise these operations was made after an efficiency review of its middle and back office operations had been evaluated.

Atkins plans to spend £55m on IT maintenance, upgrades and new software.

Southwell revealed last week that he was changing Atkins' structure from three main divisions to 15 operating businesses.

He said the move would reorganise Atkins around key markets such as rail, education, health and defence rather than focusing on the firm's expertise in particular fields.

Each business will have its own profit and loss accounts and managing directors.