Bus station architects sold to Japanese firm for £102m

Preston Bus Station
Preston Bus Station
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The Preston company which designed the city’s iconic bus station has been sold to a Japanese buyer for more than £100m.

Building Design Partnership (BDP), the UK’s second-largest firm of architects, has now become a wholly-owned subsiduary of technical and engineering consultancy Nippon Koei.

BDP was founded by the visionary Preston-born architect Sir George Grenfell-Baines in 1961 and, although it no longer has an office in the city, it employs more than 800 staff in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, China, UAE and India.

The practice was invited to design the bus station which was described as an “architectural triumph” when it was built in 1969. The brutalist-style structure with its multi-storey car park, has since been granted Grade II Listed status.

The buy-out, with a sale price of £102m, was unanimously agreed by the current board of directors. Nippon Koei will acquire 100 per cent of BDP stock from existing shareholders. The company made a profit of £2.1m in its accounts up to the end of 2014.

John McManus, BDP chief executive, said: “The alliance with Nippon Koei heralds an exciting new era in BDP’s evolution. By uniting the two firms we are creating an organisation whuch genuinely has the potential to be greater than the sum of its two parts.”

Sir George, who died in 2003 at the age of 95, was the son of a railwayman in Preston and attended Roebuck Street School and the Harris College.

The company he founded has become a prominent player in architecture, with Liverpool One, Aintree Racecourse, Old Trafford Cricket Ground and a refit of the Royal Albert Hall amongst its many successes. His widow, Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines, still lives in the city.