Northern Ireland's oldest architecture firm falls into administration

11 March 2019 2 min. read
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One of Northern Ireland's oldest businesses, the construction and design firm WDR & RT Taggart, has entered administration. Founded in 1902, the firm called in professional services firm Gildernew & Company to oversee its administration.

Forecasts on the impact of the UK’s secession from the European Union usually tend to focus on heavy industry, with manufacturers in particular being regularly tapped for their opinions on the matter. However, last year a study from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) found that the multibillion pound UK architectural industry was in danger of being hit hard by Brexit. At the time, 68% of architects had already seen Brexit impact their revenue stream, as they projects began to be put on hold. On top of this, more than 2 in 5 architects (43%) have had projects cancelled since the EU referendum.

Now, less than a month before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU becomes final – and without any sign of a deal being struck before the end of March – one of Northern Ireland’s oldest businesses has folded, citing a protracted period of challenging market conditions as the reason for its downfall. Founded in 1902, WDR & RT Taggart employs more than 30 staff across its offices in Belfast and Londonderry. It staff includes architects and structural and civil engineers. The firm has worked on major public sector projects and landmark buildings, with recent project such as Belfast's St Anne's Square and The Soloist office building in Lanyon Place.

Northern Ireland's oldest architecture firm falls into administration

Part of the business has been acquired by a newly formed company, WDR Taggart, which launched just before the firm entered administration. ‘Phoenixing’ a brand in this manner is common practice in the UK as a method of preserving jobs, and a spokesperson for the new company said it would save a quarter of the jobs at the company. The acquisition also includes the architectural, waste and energy services business of the former Taggart partnership, and some contracts and clients associated with that business.

Following that, WDR & RT Taggart appointed accounting and business advisory firm Gildernew & Company to oversee its administration. Managing partner Stephen Heaney confirmed the news after he informed staff and the firm’s suppliers of the situation – citing trading difficulties in Britain’s slow-growing market as having made the firm’s position untenable.

Heaney explained, "It is with great sadness and deep regret that we have been forced to call in the administrator following a protracted period of trading difficulties and challenging market conditions. Despite the skills, talents and experience of the outstanding team of professionals at the firm, the trading environment could not be overcome, leaving us in today's situation."