The partners of ceramics design group Queensberry Hunt Levien are dissolving the partnership at the end of the month and setting up two consultancies in its place. Two redundancies have already resulted from the move.
David Queensberry and Martin Hunt will work as Queensberry Hunt, along with fellow director John Horler. Tableware for companies such as Rosenthal, and Marks & Spencer will remain their core business. They will, however, be forming what Queensberry calls a “strategic alliance” with Annie Callaghan, former head of Liberty’s design studio.
Robin Levien will set up Studio Levien, effectively as a sole trader. He will retain bathroom manufacturer Ideal Standard as a client, but plans to keep other ceramics design in his portfolio.
The move follows long discussions about the future of the group, set up by Queensberry and Hunt in 1966. Both Queensberry and Hunt are likely to retire within four years, while Levien is “looking forward to another 15 or 20 years” in business, says Queensberry.
Levien describes the move as “amicably rejigging from a business point of view”. He says of going solo, “I couldn’t sit and wait for things to change.” He will take associate David Tilbury with him.
According to Queensberry, the arrangement has financial advantages for the partners. Royalty income has always exceeded profits, he says. By dissolving the partnership royalties can be divided among the partners, according to their shareholding.
The two groups will continue to share premises in north-west London, as well as secretarial services and other facilities. All parties are starting up small, employing mainly administrative staff, and relying on freelance support.
Senior designer Mark Hackwood and designer/modelmaker Matthew Brett were made redundant at the end of August. Brett is now working freelance for the consultancy and Hackwood will be given any freelance work that comes up, says Levien.