McColl rebuilding with new holding company

Stewart McColl is once again building an empire of design and architecture consultancies. – He has established a new holding company, SMC Holdings, to both set up and acquire consultancies, and is even planning a stock market flotation in two years.

Stewart McColl is once again building an empire of design and architecture consultancies.

He has established a new holding company, SMC Holdings, to both set up and acquire consultancies, and is even planning a stock market flotation in two years.

One of SMC Holdings’ first subsidiaries is redesigning the flagship Liberty store on London’s Regent Street in a 30m revamp due for completion in 1999.

McColl, the rise and fall of whose group during the 1980s typified the rollercoaster relationship of the City and the UK design industry, is confident lessons have been learnt. “The holding company will be small and the economy is much more solid now,” he says. McColl is chief executive and chairman of SMC Holdings.

Already SMC Holdings has set up two wholly-owned companies, McColl Europe and McColl Landmark. McColl Europe takes over from Broadway Malyan Europe, which ran McColl’s joint projects, and will handle 40 ongoing collaborations with architect Broadway Malyan, with whom McColl has worked for the last four years.

McColl Landmark has been formed with architectural practice Landmark and is doing the Liberty work. Around 2000m2 of floorspace will be redesigned. “It will be a new Liberty,” says McColl. The McColl Landmark team will “grow considerably”, adds McColl. It is working on other, undisclosed projects.

McColl Landmark will work on shop projects. Other SMC Holding start-ups or purchases will each cover one of nine additional sectors, namely: shopping centres and out-of-town retail; city centre offices; campus offices; health; hotels; other leisure projects such as cinemas; industrial; residential; and public buildings.

“I will be buying companies outright and looking to exchange cash and shares in the holding company for 100 per cent of the existing businesses,” says McColl.

“This idea has been bubbling around in my head for a long time. What I am aiming for are group post-tax profits of 2m by the end of this year. Ultimately, it will be bigger than McColl Group was.”

McColl says his first purchase is “imminent”. He has been looking at many consultancies, and says: “We will make it possible for all of them to grow at a faster pace with the injection of capital.”

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