There are question marks over the future of design management at Boots the Chemists, following the surprise departure of John McConnell who has been external brand guardian for the company for more than 20 years.
The company is currently recruiting an internal head of design and the role will have a broad remit covering interiors, graphics, and packaging, says a Boots spokesman. These are areas for which McConnell has traditionally been responsible.
‘The role is to replace me,’ confirms McConnell, adding that details of any handover have yet to be finalised.
McConnell, who reported to Boots chief executive Steve Russell, was originally appointed by the company to review its ownlabel packaging, but says his responsibilities grew over time to encompass the entire brand.
McConnell plans to take on a similar role with another retailer, but was not in a position to confirm details as Design Week went to press.
The internal head of design role could be based in London, or other areas of the UK, rather than at the company’s headquarters in Nottingham, says the spokesman.
‘Today’s technology enables us to be more flexible about location. So many designers are based in London, [the decision] is a practical response to make sure that we get the right person for the job,’ he says.
The decision to appoint an internal design head follows the company’s announcement last month that it plans to focus on retail basics and invest £170m in upgrading its estate over the next four years. This will mean backtracking from experiments with services such as aromatherapy and dentistry.