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Woodhead deal a positive, says GHD

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Around one in three of design firm Woodhead’s remaining Adelaide staff have lost their jobs in the wake of the merger of the architecture firm’s brand into engineering group GHD.

This is on top of the staff that have been let go by Woodhead in the last 12 months as it sought a buyer for its business.

GHD confirmed today that last week it took on 15 Woodhead staff when the merger deal was finalised.

That left six Woodhead employees without a job, each receiving a letter stating that their redundancy payments were yet to be clarified as Woodhead had gone into receivership.

GHD maintained yesterday that the merger deal was a positive outcome.

“This cements GHD’s position as one of the leading architectural practices in the State,” GHD’s South Australia Manager Jim Giannopoulos said in a statement to InDaily.

“GHD has strengthened its position as an integrated architectural and engineering firm.”

The 15 Woodhead staff members moved into GHD’s Victoria Square offices on Wednesday last week.

“One of our top priorities is to have the appropriate staff on board to deliver on the Woodhead projects to be taken over by GHD,” Giannopolous said.

“We also wanted to make sure all clients will be serviced at the highest level over the longer term.

“This enhances GHD’s capabilities across our key market sectors including defence, aviation, education, health and property. The team has hit the ground running and we expect to grow this practice in the future.

“The companies developed a strong rapport over the years, having worked together on numerous projects and shared a proud long history in South Australia. Both companies have been involved in many of the state’s major architecture and infrastructure projects.”

Former Woodhead executive director Jim Williams said: “I believe that this is a good outcome for the majority of Woodhead people.”

Details of Woodhead’s receivership and the level of debt remaining in the compnay remains unknown with the company’s administrators and receivers in meetings all day Monday preparing a report to creditors.

GHD’s corporate origins go back to 1928 when George Gutteridge opened the business in Melbourne, a year after Woodhead started in Adelaide.

GHD opened an Adelaide office in 1976.

The consulting industry, meanwhile, is feeling the pinch from the downturn in work available for engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, project managers and planners.

Jan Irvine, the State Manager SA of Consult Australia –  the industry association for consulting companies – released results of Consult Australia’s 2013 Industry Critical survey showing in the 12 months to June 2013 alone, 83 per cent of South Australian firms surveyed had made staff redundant, and of these 80 per cent were permanent employees.

“This is a critical loss, worsened by the fact that professionals are also moving interstate and overseas to seek work and, under current conditions, are unlikely to return,” Irvine told InDaily.

“This will impact the South Australian industry’s future capacity to deliver infrastructure projects and prove extraordinarily detrimental to small and medium enterprises.”

 

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