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Black & Veatch slashes UK staff as US operation tightens its grip


AMERICAN CONSULTANT Black & Veatch is forcing senior UK based staff out of the business after imposing a shake up, it emerged this week.

The move follows a decision to shift decision making to the water and supply company's Kansas City base while cutting senior jobs in the UK.

Black & Veatch's UK based managers are understood to have become frustrated at being forced to defer most decisions to their US bosses.

The new business structure takes effect at the end of the month.

It is understood that the company has created a range of new directorships and eliminated a layer of management.

Four regional business manager roles have been replaced by three regional business directors, and several existing directorships are understood to have been scrapped.

'Essentially the new roles all seem to involve a lot more responsibility but the same if not lower salaries, ' said one company insider.

The company will also close its Isleworth office, which used to be the headquarters of Black & Veatch Contracting.

This employs 100 staff, some of which will move to head office at Redhill.

Others will take redundancy.

Black & Veatch could not yet say how many staff it expected to lose.

The reorganisation is being led by Black & Veatch European director Bruce Ainsworth, who replaced David Nickols in June (NCE 9 June). Ainsworth aims to spend 50% of his time in Britain and 50% at Black & Veatch's Kansas headquarters.

'People are feeling unappreciated and demotivated and there will be several staff choosing to leave in the near future, ' said a senior source.

Another said: 'There is an issue with motivation, especially when people have the same amount of responsibility that they always did and are held accountable, but have no authority. Even the most simple decisions have to be deferred to the US. It is extremely frustrating.' It is understood that three senior managers are expected to leave by the end of the month.

B&V's Europe director Bruce Ainsworth would not discuss senior management departures or the detail of the restructuring.

'With any change comes uncertainty but our new business structure allows us to focus better on our UK clients, ' he told NCE.

A eshuffl e had been anticipated for some time following the merger of Black & Veatch's three UK businesses into one organisation last year (NCE 7 October 2004).

insworth defended the shake up.

'We are structuring our business to serve our clients better.

Each AMP and framework cycle brings challenges and a requirement by our clients to provide more value for money spent, ' he said.

'Our new model will allow us to respond to current and future AMP and framework cycles with approaches that will increase efficiency for our clients and improve our business performance, ' said Ainsworth.

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