Britain's Atkins to increase Middle East headcount


By Elizabeth Broomhall

Atkins, the British construction engineer, said Thursday it will increase its headcount in Middle East after recording a 70 percent rise in regional full-year profit.

Atkins projects include the Dubai Metro and development Durrat Al Bahrain
Atkins projects include the Dubai Metro and development Durrat Al Bahrain

The firm, whose projects include the Dubai Metro and Durrat Al Bahrain, said it will grow employee numbers chiefly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar to accelerate expansion in those markets.

“Staff numbers have stabilised and we are now in a period of recruiting in the Middle East,” said Richard Barrett, managing director, Middle East.

“We are looking particularly at strategic hires to strengthen our capabilities and also our depth in the new territories which we are moving into.”

The company lost 16.5 percent of its Middle East staff in 2010 to 1,555 employees as the collapse of Dubai’s property market hurt its largest regional revenue source.

Atkins reported total underlying pretax profit for the year to end March of £102.7m against £93.9m in 2010.

Including the acquisition costs of US engineering design firm PBSJ Corp, full-year pretax profit stood at £91.0m compared to £96.6m a year ago.

In the Middle East, the company benefited from debt recovery and growth in infrastructure projects to push regional profits up 70 percent.

Barrett said the firm’s orderbook for the year ahead had exceeded £125m, or 89 percent of its total revenue for last year following an array of new contract wins.

The company plans to focus on nuclear developments in partnership with French nuclear builder Assystem, alongside rail and infrastructure projects benefitting from a surge in social spending across the Gulf.

Atkins earlier this year established a branch in Saudi Arabia in partnership with local architect Mohamed Al Harasani, to allow it to bid for new projects in the Gulf’s wealthiest economy.