Elmwood staff hit by restructure

Changes in the fmcg packaging market have caused Leeds branding group Elmwood to lay off eight staff this week, as it refocuses its business in the digital media market and plans to open offices in the south of England.

The eight redundancies in Leeds consist of three designers, three artworkers and two project managers. According to a consultancy statement, Elmwood is scaling down activity in its core business of branded and own-label packaging.

Elmwood chairman Jonathan Sands says the group’s change of emphasis is prompted by “the toughening up of the packaging market”. Long-standing Elmwood clients such as supermarket chain Asda are competing on price and passing cuts through the supplier chain, he says. Brand-owners, meanwhile, are “delaying re-designs and squeezing budgets”. Some brands are even disappearing from supermarket shelves through pressure from retailers.

Sands warns of a further design squeeze for supermarket brands, with retailers such as Tesco seeking to unify own-brand lines with formulaic branding, rather than use several designs.

The move coincides with Elmwood’s plans to make four “senior digital media appointments” for its planned London office and restructure its board of directors. The London office will open “by September”, says Sands, and Elmwood is looking to open a second office in the south of England shortly. It is talking to two consultancies about a possible joint venture, he adds.

Digital media has long been part of Elmwood’s branding offer. But according to consultancy chief executive officer Keith Kirby, “The real point behind these changes [to Elmwood’s mix] is how clients’ customers experience brands. Increasingly, the ability to deliver that experience through any medium, including e-commerce and m-commerce [via mobile phones], is critical.”

Elmwood has designed the Football Association’s 1999 annual report. The publication outlines FA chief executive Adam Crozier’s vision for the future of English football.

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