UK’s biggest employer of architects says 2018-19 revenue was highest in its 52-year history

Norman Foster

Norman Foster

Foster & Partners has reported a hike in profit and its “highest ever” turnover in the firm’s annual accounts for 2018-19.

The practice, which is the UK’s biggest employer of architects according to the WA100, said profit before tax was £21.5m for the year to April 30 – up 3.4% on the previous year’s figure.

Fosters said global turnover was £258m, up 21.4% on 2017-18 – however last year’s figure was significantly down on both previous years. Its 2018-19 figure is less than £1m above its 2015-16 revenue.

A regional breakdown of Fosters’ turnover showed that its revenue in Asia and the Middle East raced ahead in 2018-19, while UK revenue contracted in the year the practice won the Stirling Prize for an unprecedented third time with its Bloomberg London building.


Stirling work: Fosters’ Bloomberg London HQ

Continentally, Asia was Fosters’ biggest market contributing £71.3m to its revenue total, up 19.6% on the previous year; the Middle East accounted for £54.0m, up 43.4%.

UK revenue dipped 6.5% to £21.2m, while revenue for continental Europe was up 18% to £24.5m.


Source: DBOX

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Fosters said it had increased its headcount year on year and had an average of 1,317 staff in 2018-19, up from 1,266 in 2017-18.

Chairman and founder Norman Foster said the past year had seen the practice notch up “many highlights” as it moved “from strength to strength with our highest turnover in the history of the practice”, which was founded as Foster Associates in 1967.

Foster’s high points included the opening of new offices in Shenzhen and Dubai, and growth in the number of employees working in San Francisco, Singapore and Shanghai, with the latter two moving into larger premises.

Despite the US and Asian expansions, the practice said 80% its staff were still based in London.

However, Foster also took the opportunity to voice concerns over the impact on the profession of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

“The prospect of a restrictive Brexit and the rise of nationalism are threats to all of us who cultivate excellence through scholarship and diversity,” he said.

Apple Miami - Fosters (6)

Source: Nigel Young / Foster & Partners

Fosters’ now-complete Miami Apple Store

Last year Foster used the practice’s annual accounts to express fears over the practice’s ability to attract and retain staff in a post-Brexit world.

Somewhat ironically for a statement issued against the backdrop of London Mayor Sadiq Khan ordering the City of London Corporation to refuse consent for Foster & Partners’ Tulip tourist tower, Foster thanked local authorities around the globe for consenting and regulating its projects over the past 12 months.

The accounts suggested that Foster & Partners’ highest-paid director received £2.5m during the year to April 30. Foster stood down as director of Foster & Partners Group Ltd on July 2 this year as part of a corporate restructuring but he joined and remains on the board of the business’ new ultimate holding company.