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Acquisitive Atkins plans massive growth in staff

SUPER-CONSULTANT WS Atkins has plans to swell its workforce to over 100,000 staff on a wave of new US and European acquisitions, it emerged this week.

Chief executive Mike Jeffries told NCE this week that he wanted to grow the business to eight times its present 12,000 worldwide staff over the next 10 years.

Reporting half-year profits up 14% at £12.6M on a turnover of £314M, Jeffries predicted further growth in the US following the purchase of property firm Lambert Smith Hampton last year and engineering firm Benham in January.

Jeffries said: 'We want a greater presence in the US with acquisitions concentrating on the transport and property sectors.' Already established in Chicago and Atlanta, Atkins is keen to make purchases on the east and west coasts.

But he warned: 'There is a big risk because a lot of companies buying into the US fail. We will be anxious to demonstrate to our investors we can get it right.'

Jeffries also hopes to establish a 'greater presence on the ground in continental Europe' to capitalise on the expected upsurge in pan-European services. It already has offices in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Poland but is also keen to gain a foothold in Germany, Holland and France.

Debts of £9.8M from the combined £80M purchase of Lambert Smith Hampton and Benham would not stop the company from expanding further, he added.

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