RMJM finance director John Douglas
John Douglas joined by two other senior figures
The crisis gripping RMJM is intensifying with departures at the firm now affecting its top management, including group financial director John Douglas.
BD can also reveal that another head-office director, commercial director Eric Allan, has gone while a third senior figure, Colin Bone, the managing principal of its European studio who has been with the business since 2007, is also understood to have resigned.
One source told BD that Douglas, who was previously finance director at drinks firm Whyte & Mackay, quit in apparent protest “at not being allowed to do his job anymore”. The source said the recent payment of missing staff salaries had been co-ordinated by chief executive Peter Morrison’s brother-in-law Richard Bailes, the firm’s commercial director in the US.
“This was a job that John used to do,” the source said. “He is no longer copied in on any of the emails on financial issues. He feels it’s no longer possible for him to operate properly anymore.”
The dramatic news caps a disastrous few months at the business for Morrison who has watched a steady stream of senior staff leave, fed up with the late payment of salaries and other benefits. Clients have also begun pulling jobs after being spooked by the financial problems affecting the firm while staff in Hong Kong are taking the firm to a tribunal to recoup £100,000 in alleged unpaid wages.
At one stage, staff across the group were owed three months’ salary and only 10 days ago received their first payments of 2012. This included March wages being paid in full – though just 60% of their January and February salaries.
Any hopes that those payments might have eased the pressure on the embattled Morrison and his right-hand man, group commercial director Declan Thompson, have disappeared with the departures. This has been exacerbated by the resignation of design director Nick Cordingley, who RMJM moved to its Hong Kong office only in last autumn to try and stabilise operations there.
Cordingley’s brief was to win more work for RMJM’s office in Hong Kong, but last Friday he began his first day at work for 10 Design – the business set up by five ex-RMJM designers in December 2010.
Cordingley, who spent around a decade at RMJM, is now heading 10 Design’s Shanghai studio. His departure is thought to be linked to the firm’s problems paying staff their salaries. A source said: “Hong Kong is quite an expensive place to live. To go out there and live without a salary is not a sustainable situation.”
Gordon Affleck, design partner at 10 Design, said: “We know we are very lucky to have to have secured Nick. He brings with him a depth of design experience both from the UK and internationally.”
RMJM declined to comment.
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