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Environmental Analyst
10 June 2010

Recession's winners & losers in UK enviro consultancy

Research reveals which practices improved market position, which lost ground & deepest staff cuts

More than two-thirds of the UK’s leading environmental consulting(EC) practices reduced staff numbers in 2009 in response to recession,according to the latest sector analysis by Environment Analyst.

Thebiggest headcount reductions in response to recession were made by ERM,Waterman Energy Environment & Design and WYG Environment.

Onlythree of the top 32 firms identified in the report bucked the trend andexpanded their UK EC teams last year. They are Aecom, Amec (Earth &Environmental) and Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), with the latterincreasing its full-time equivalent staff numbers by almost 16%. PB wasalso one of the strongest performers in terms of revenue growth in2009, achieving a double-digit increase against an overall UK EC marketdecline of 3.0%.

The total UK market for environmenal consultancy was valued at £1.36 billion last year (see Figure 1).

Thereport’s author Liz Trew comments: “It came as something of a shock tomany environmental consultancy managers that their businesses were notas immune to recession - due to underlying legislative drivers - asthey had hoped. While some have continued to perform extremely well, itpushed many of the larger firms to review their strategic direction andmake difficult – in some cases long overdue - decisions that willultimately see them emerge leaner, stronger and more efficient.”

Environment Analyst`sreport includes comparative analysis and in-depth profiles of each ofthe top 32 UK EC firms, whose combined revenues accounted for 71% ofthe environmental consultancy market in 2009. Company profiles revealkey staff and revenue figures, a breakdown of revenue by core servicearea and client sector, as well as Environment Analyst’s commentary on the business strategy, strengths, weaknesses and growth opportunities for each company.

Declining market share

Leading UK environmental consultancies, 2009Elevenof the top 32 practices suffered loss of market share during 2009 –including market leader RPS Group - while 16 firms were able to improveon their position. Rankings of the leading firms are shown in the tableopposite.

Headline findings from Environment Analyst`sreport suggest that firms with significant revenue from the publicsector were generally more resilient than those heavily reliant on theprivate sector in 2009. This is a situation likely to reverse in 2010as the newly-elected UK government tightens its purse strings.

The data and conclusions presented in Environment Analyst`s Market Assessment of the UK Environmental Consultancy Sector 2010is the culmination of several months` in-depth analysis, which includedtwo market surveys and interpretation of data collated from a varietyof sources, including company annual reports and accounts. It includesa 152-slide executive presentation and 74-page competitor analysis. Thereport is now available to market intelligence service subscribers.