Austin-Smith Lord has been forced to make 70 staff redundant and place a further 13 on notice because of late-paying clients and the suspension of a major Middle Eastern project.
The practice has been struggling to pay staff and suppliers for the past three months and was forced to make 40 London staff redundant on Tuesday night.
It has also laid off 30 staff in its Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow offices because of delays to payments on UK projects.
BD understands the suspended project is the Abu Dhabi cultural quarter which Austin-Smith Lord won in July, its first major international commission.
All 13 staff in the Abu Dhabi office have been put on notice while delicate, government-level negotiations are conducted in an effort to release outstanding fees. If they were to lose their jobs the total redundancies would represent nearly half of the firm’s 180 staff.
Executive partner Neil Chapman said the difficulties were not with the client, which was keen to retain the staff.
“The client fully accepts its responsibility to pay amounts due,” said a statement from the practice, “however payment is being hampered by extraordinary events outside its immediate control.
“There have been, and continue to be, concerted and strenuous efforts underway at the highest diplomatic and political levels to speed payment of outstanding fees.”
Jennifer Dixon, a partner at the London office, said the redundancies were a matter of “deep regret”.
The practice’s last accounts, for the year ended 31 March 2010, showed a 34% increase in turnover from £12.2 million to £16.5 million.
Chapman said the practice had a “robust business in the UK” and was grateful to staff and suppliers for their support which was “instrumental in managing the business cash flow”.
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13 May 2011 | Updated: 13 May 2011 10:25 am