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13 September 2013

New firm FKA plans rapid expansion

By BD online

Please be advised that as of March 2015, FKA announced that it will trade and operate under the expanded name Arney Fender Katsalidis.

Ex-Woods Bagot director aims to double London staff numbers to 60 in response to rising demand for work

A new practice set up by a former Woods Bagot board director is planning on doubling its current staff numbers in London to 60.

The firm, called FKA, was only set up last month, but founding director Earle Arney said it planned to hire more staff to cope with jobs in London, North America and the Middle East.

Arney spent 15 years at Woods Bagot before quitting in May to set up the new firm in partnership with Australian practice Fender Katsalidis, founded 25 years ago, which has offices in Sydney and Melbourne. That firm’s existing staff numbers mean the current staff levels for the enlarged practice are around 150.

Others to join the start-up include former Gensler principal Simon Jackson, who is heading up its interiors arm, and Martin Markcrow, who previously worked at John McAslan before setting up on his own.

The firm is expecting most of its UK work to be in London, Arney said. “The fundamentals of London are strong. It is a safe haven for residential investors and there’s the “nylon” [New York London] connection as well.”

He argued that this was a good time to be starting a new practice, adding: “I’ve been through a few recessions but 2008 was the worst. Things started to pick up in 2010 with bright spots but there was no consistency. It’s a lot better now.”

FKA is targeting office and residential work along with resorts schemes, and Arney said it was already working on an unnamed residential tower development in London.

He added: “There is increased positivity in the marketplace and we’re having more positive conversations with developers and tenants in the City. I don’t see residential changing in terms of its demands.”
FKA has already bagged three office deals in Canada – a scheme in Calgary for developer Brookfield, which Arney was already working on at Woods Bagot, and the second stage of refurbishment work for accountant Deloitte in Montreal and Toronto.

Arney said the practice was also looking at work in the Middle East. “In Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, the tap’s back on. There’s been a big rejuvenation in the past six months.”