Member News | Hawkins\Brown moves to Employee Ownership

Hawkins\Brown has transitioned to an Employee Ownership model, having established an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) which has purchased the business of Hawkins\Brown from current partners and will operate it for the long-term benefit of all its employees.

Over 33 years, Hawkins\Brown grew from two founder employees to an international practice with offices in the UK and US, with a staff of over 260 led by 21 Partners who jointly owned the business through an LLP. The decision to transition to Employee Ownership has been taken to provide the best option for the sustainable future growth of the practice. A new practice governance structure is now in place, with the creation of a Board of Trustees and an elected Employee Council to work alongside its Operations Board.

The practice’s management has been further enriched by an additional 11 new promotions to Partner level, bringing the total number of Partners in the practice to 32. This recognises the contribution of a new generation of the practice’s leadership.

An Independent Chair, Larissa Joy OBE, has been appointed to chair the Board of Trustees to provide fresh perspective to the business during this pivotal stage in its growth. Her extensive portfolio of independent Non-Executive Director and Chair roles, including L&Q and employee-owned leadership consulting firm Saxton Bampfylde, will bring international insight from the built environment as well as professional services and the wider creative sector.

Founding partners Roger Hawkins and Russell Brown remain active within the business’ senior leadership team working on live projects while nurturing the next generation and fostering creativity across the practice.

Hawkins\Brown founder Roger Hawkins said:

“When we set up practice in 1988, we could not have predicted that Hawkins\Brown would grow to be one of the leading UK-based practices. It takes a long time to establish an architectural practice. One of our earliest commissions – Crossrail Tottenham Court Road, won in 1992, has only just been completed!

“We are proud that our vision of an architectural practice with a committed social and cultural agenda still holds true today. Our innovative and collaborative approach to practice has never changed and we are still reinventing the way we practice architecture in response to the market, technology, and our clients.

“Our success is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, which is why our transition to Employee Ownership feels like the inevitable next step. It is an opportunity to set the foundations for further growth enabling us all to do great architecture.”

Hawkins\Brown founder Russell Brown said:

“This is a moment of celebration for us. Moving to employee ownership has been a long-held ambition and a carefully planned succession strategy. A building is never designed by one person – we always wanted to recognise everyone’s contribution in creating great buildings and spaces, and this move is our way of making sure we capture everyone’s energy and commitment to respond to the seismic climate, cultural and political challenges today.”

In a joint statement, Employee Council Trustee members, Robert Burrows and Elinor Macdonald said:

“The Employee Council was formed through an election some months before our move to employee ownership. This gave us time to establish ourselves and listen to what mattered to our colleagues during the transition period.”

“Through peer support and training, we quickly learnt that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to establishing an employee voice, and this understanding has allowed us to evolve our role as champions of the practice’s inclusive and collaborative culture.”

“As elected council members, we feel that our presence within the Trust Board shows a true commitment towards our transition to employee ownership.”

Deb Oxley, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said:

“Congratulations to Hawkins\Brown on its transition to employee ownership securing the ethos, values and culture of the business, as well as rooting the jobs in the region, for the longer term.

“We’re delighted that the new employee owners and the business will benefit from Hawkins\Brown’s commitment to good employee ownership as part of its growth strategy – with robust governance and employee voice established as part of its employee ownership transformation.”