Architectural firm BDP, whose founder started practicing in Preston in the 1930s, and which now employs a 200-strong Manchester studio in Piccadilly Basin, has been acquired by engineering practice Nippon Koei of Japan.
Nippon Koei has bought the entire share capital of BDP Holdings for £102.2m, the pair announced in a joint statement on Thursday.
“Both companies will retain their existing operations and their own brand identity,” the statement said. “Their complementary geographical footprints and technical skills mean that they will be able to work collaboratively to win and deliver integrated design solutions across international markets.”
BDP has six UK studios as well as offices in Ireland, the Netherlands, the Middle East, China and India. The firm employs 950 people and had a turnover in excess of £81m in 2015.
Originally established in 1946 as Japan’s first independent engineering consultancy, Nippon Koei’s primary strength is in civil engineering although it offers a range of services to both Japanese and international clients. A significant proportion of Nippon Koei’s work is associated with infrastructure development funded by the Japanese Government and the World Bank in developing economies across Asia, South America and Africa. BDP’s overseas skill-base will enable Nippon Koei to expand its current international offer in the rapidly expanding Asian commercial markets. Nippon Koei employs around 3,200 people and had a turnover of £430m in 2015. The company has been listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange since 1954.
John McManus, chief executive of BDP, said: “The alliance with Nippon Koei heralds an exciting new era in BDP’s evolution. Although separated geographically, our two firms share common values and have highly complementary strengths in terms of professional offer and sector expertise. By uniting the two firms, we are creating an organisation which genuinely has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts. We believe that this strategic international alignment will deliver huge benefits to our clients and will offer exceptional prospects for our people to develop both professionally and personally.”
Ryuichi Arimoto, president of Nippon Koei, said: “As a leading architecture and design firm in the UK, BDP’s participation in the NK group will mark a great turning point in both of our histories. We will join forces on a global basis and provide solutions together to the many urban development problems from both an engineering and an architectural perspective. The combination of NK’s 70 years of experience in social development and infrastructure together with BDP’s 55 years of experience in the education, health and commercial sectors, will create significant opportunity to add value for our clients and, I am confident, will lead the group to become the world’s leading integrated architecture, engineering and design company for the next generation. I also believe that the synergies between us will not only advantage our projects but will be of enormous benefit to our staff from a human resources perspective.”
BDP’s founder Professor Sir George Grenfell-Baines set up in practice as an architect in Preston in 1937. Four years later he teamed up with two other Preston practices and the Grenfell-Baines group was born. In 1961 he founded Building Design Partnership, realising his long-cherished ambition of establishing the world’s first interdisciplinary design and engineering practice.
Nippon Koei is particularly strong in the public sector and has good links with the Japanese arm of Official Development Assistance which promotes economic development and infrastructure in developing countries. In 2012, ODA (27 countries) spent US$125bn and Japan (JICA) is the 5th biggest contributor to ODA and has 100 offices overseas.
Nippon Koei employs 3,220 people and has offices in Japan, Indonesia and Philippines, India and Bangladesh, Africa, Middle East, and South America.