Chief executive of consultant says changes are next stage in recovery after refinancing deal

Paul Hamer, the chief executive of WYG, has said the consulting engineer is in the final stages of a review that will result in it abandoning or changing up to a quarter of its operations.

The “long overdue” review, which Hamer will unveil in the summer, follows the refinancing of its £100m debt pile, which shareholders voted through last week. Hamer, who took over at the £262m-turnover firm last February, said the changes were the next stage in its recovery plan, now it was on a sounder financial footing. Last October it posted a pre-tax loss of £129m.

He said: “We’ve held up all parts of the business to the mirror to see how strong they are. The result is a hierarchy of priorities. In future we’ll do 25% in a different way or not at all.”

He declined to reveal which areas would be affected but said the top priorities were planning, transport, energy, sustainability, water and waste.

But he said WYG would not become an infrastructure specialist. He said: “I’m nervous about that sort of single identity. We’re comfortable as a multidisciplinary firm.”

Asked how the firm would change, Hamer said: “We will do more higher up the value chain. We want to sit alongside the client to manage the design rather than get involved in detailed structural engineering work offloaded by a contractor.”

He also said WYG would alter its overseas growth model by focusing on hubs rather than single countries. “We recently won work in Bosnia and Croatia on the back of a job in Serbia.”

Paul Hamer’s three-point recovery plan

1 Create a business fit for purpose
“Most redundancies are behind us. More efficiencies will be driven from the business, but we’re looking to refine not restructure.”

2 Internationalise
“UK and Ireland account for 80% turnover but the medium-term plan is for 50% of revenue from overseas.” Abu Dhabi will be the base to move into Qatar, Oman and Saudi.

3 Create peaks of excellence
“We won’t work in low-margin, low-risk arenas. We’re not interested in being a top 20 ‘me-too’ player in any market.”