AEW Headshots JHP 7058
From left: Savage, Lamb, Critchlow, Hepworth and Rainford

AEW’s Rainford and Savage complete buyout

Sarah Townsend

Architecture and design practice AEW Architects has completed a management buyout led by managing director Andy Rainford and director Colin Savage.

The deal, which involves the purchase of the company’s share capital, is the second MBO in a decade for the Manchester-based practice – the first was led by former managing director, the late Steve Burne, in 2011.

The move comes as former majority shareholder and managing director Andy Critchlow begins a gradual exit from the industry.

Under the plans, announced to staff today, Rainford will head AEW’s new board as managing director, with directors Colin Savage, Alan Lamb and Phil Hepworth alongside him.

Rainford, who has worked at AEW for the past 21 years, said: “I’m delighted to be leading the practice. We have a great team, fantastic client base and a very resilient business, and working through the disruptions from Covid-19 has only proved this further.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the progress we make, focussing on future improvements and driving sustainability.”

Savage joined AEW in 2017 after serving as a director of another practice, Bernard Taylor Partnership, which he joined in 1989. He said: “Since joining AEW, I have been amazed by the team, which collaborates daily to deliver great service but always looks to improve – I’ve immediately felt at home since joining.

“This is now an opportunity to continue to shape and build such a progressive business.”

Critchlow took control of AEW in 2017 as other equity directors from the 2011 MBO left – Steve Burne developed terminal cancer, and Nigel Machin joined one of the firm’s clients, developer Derwent Group, as development director.

Critchlow becomes a consultant with AEW under the management change. He said: “AEW has never been in better shape and it is testament to our continued work on succession planning that I am handing over the baton to Andy and Colin.

“They both understand AEW’s values and are passionate about continuing the legacy of continual improvement. I’m looking forward to supporting them in the transition before deciding on my next challenge.”

Discussions on the MBO began in January and completed in mid-September, with no external financing sought.

AEW has just completed work on the first phase of Carrington Gateway for developer Himor, delivering 211,000 sq ft of speculative industrial units as part of the Future Carrington masterplan to regenerate the 1,660-acre estate.

The firm is also designing the Sale West estate regeneration for Irwell Valley Homes, and the £150m Church Wharf mixed-use scheme in Bolton town centre, led by Muse Developments.




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What a diverse line-up of beshirted men.

By Su-dae

AEW excellent architects but in desperate need of a better photographer.

By Anonymous

various shades of blue and grey

By catwoman