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Design practices at risk


THOUSANDS OF small-tomedium-sized design and consultancy practices could disappear over the next five years as the senior construction professionals running them retire.

According to research by Trojan Recruitment, up to 1,500 firms, each with up to 50 employees, are at risk as their lead or named designers retire.

'In about five years time, baby boomers who set up successful consultancies will be looking to retire, ' explained Jim Kay, director of mergers at Trojan.

'But what happens when the named designer leaves? We estimate that up to 1,500 consultancies have no plans to deal with this.' Kay said that his firm stumbled over the information when headhunting small consultancy owners, who were unexpectedly keener to sell up than deal with the problem of succession.

'A charismatic leader may put in a non-threatening team. When he leaves, what's left?' asked Kay.

He believes some could merge, but many will simply close.

Around 40% of fi rms at risk are consulting engineers, the rest are architects and surveyors.

However, a spokesperson for the Association of Consulting Engineers (ACE) was upbeat about prospects and said that the engineering design sector was dynamic. 'Movements take place on both sides. Companies are formed and are flourishing, ' he said. 'The market is not static.'

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