Aukett swoops for fellow architects in £1.6m deal

Have your say

A FIRM of architects which has an office in Yorkshire has been acquired in a £1.6m deal.

Aukett Fitzroy Robinson Group, the international group of architects and interior designers, has snapped up Swanke Hayden Connell Europe (SHCE) as part of its expansion plans.

SHCE is a firm of architects and interior designers which has offices in London, Moscow, Istanbul and Sheffield.

A spokesman added: “Aukett is a useful bellwether of the UK economy.”

SHCE has around 95 staff in its European operations. Combined with AFR’s existing international network, the deal creates a company with 340 staff in eight countries.

The merger of studios in both London and Moscow will provide the opportunity for cost savings, the statement said.

The enlarged group revenue will rise to £16m as a result of the acquisition.

SHCE is the European arm of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects which dates from 1906, when Walker & Gillette was founded in New York.

A branch office of SHCA was established in London in 1989 with a subsidiary in Istanbul in 1996.

This was followed by the purchase of George Trew Dunn of Sheffield in 2002, and the establishment of a Moscow branch in 2005.

SHCE was acquired by its current management through a management buyout from SHCA in November 2005.

SHCE’s global clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, the European Medicines Agency, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, JP Morgan Chase, Land Securities, Microsoft and Symantec.

One of SHCE’s directors, David Hughes, the chief executive of SHCE, has joined the AFR Board as deputy chairman.

Commenting on the deal, Nicholas Thompson the chief executive of Aukett Fitzroy Robinsons, said: “The combination of AFR and SHCE under the Aukett Swanke brand will significantly enhance both firms’ reputations in the market place and enable us all to deliver an ever increasing quality of service to our clients in our chosen markets.

“The two firms make an excellent commercial and cultural fit. The future of the merged entity can only be good for clients, staff and shareholders.”

Mr Hughes said that he and his senior fee earning team were delighted to become part of Aukett Swanke.

He said the combined design talents of SHCE and AFR will bring “significant future benefits” to the enlarged group.

An analysts’ note from FinnCap said: “Enjoying more positive trading, AFR is moving on to the front foot.”

The note said that cost-cutting synergies will help 2015 earnings, and it leaves the group well-positioned to undertake further deals.