RIBA Chartered Practices turnover tops £1.58bn in 2012

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2012/13 Business Benchmarking Survey has revealed RIBA Chartered Practices had a combined turnover of over £1.58bn last year, but warns the profession that it cannot rely on great design alone, but also needs to be business and client focused to be a successful business and thriving profession.

In its most comprehensive survey of Chartered Practices to date the RIBA has identified the following key trends:

  • Chartered Practices have a combined income of £1.58bn of which, almost half is earned by large practices ( 3% of Practices)
  • Average profit to turnover is around 22%. This percentage falls the larger the practice; almost 40% of large practices make less than 10% profit.
  • 20% of income comes from projects outside the UK. This leaps to 36% for Large practices and 33% for London practices.
  • 62% of practices do not have a business plan and, of those that do, only 13% plan beyond one year.
  • 30% of the workforce is female: 76% of non-fee earners but only a quarter of fee earners are women.
  • The percentage of women falls by seniority: 40% of Architectural Assistants but only 12% of equity Partners or shareholder Directors.
  • 50% of the profession’s work is won as the result of a direct approach with no competitive process; 21% is won through straight fee bids.
  • One-off houses account for 9% of the profession’s fees. The residential market accounts for 25%; education for 15%. Mixed use (13%) and offices (11%) are the only other sectors to contribute more than 10%.

RIBA President Angela Brady said:

'The Business Benchmarking Survey provides vital intelligence for our members and informs the RIBA’s own priorities to give best support.  One key element exposed in these latest results is the acute split in business management, profitability and specialisms between large and small practices on how to make the most of their own position in the market place.

'What is clear is that if growth is on the agenda for a practice, then simply being a great designer, or a good project runner, is unlikely to be enough.

'Practices must identify a clear proposition to its target audiences with client-focused leadership and efficient business management – as well as great design. The RIBA is committed to tailored support and guiding for practices of every size. One element that I remain hugely concerned about is the gender inequality that continues to pervade the profession, with a massive drop-off in equal representation as seniority rises.  We need to do much more as a galvanised profession to erase this as an issue.'


Notes to editors

  1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3761 howard.crosskey@riba.org
  2. For the first time completion of the RIBA Business Benchmarking survey is a mandatory requirement for all RIBA Chartered practices. The results reflect architectural practice across the United Kingdom.
  3. The Executive Summary can be found on architecture.com 
  4. Data has been analysed by RIBA Region and Nations in five size categories:

       Micro: 5 members of staff

       Small: 5 to 10 members of staff

       Small-medium: 10 to 20 members of staff

       Large-medium: 20 to 50 members of staff

       Large: 50 + members of staff

  1. The mandatory rule has enabled us to apply weightings to our data analysis, which means that many of the figures reported are not comparable with the figures in last year’s report. This is a one-off change and figures will be comparable in future years.
  2. The information in the survey draws on data to the end of 2012.
  3. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members www.architecture.com
  4. Follow us on Twitter for regular RIBA updates www.twitter.com/RIBA