At last we have cause to celebrate. The business is doing better than it has for years and the upturn looks set to stay.
That is the gist of Design Week’s 2007 Top 100 survey, which charts the fortunes of the UK’s leading independent design groups. Design fees earned by Top 100 groups in 2006 were up 10 per cent on the previous year, on turnover up 9 per cent. And with most groups anticipating a further 10 per cent growth during 2007, we are set for a lively future.
Much of that liveliness is likely to manifest in takeovers and mergers. By entering the Top 100 trawl many groups are setting out their stall to attract outside investors.
The one to watch in recent months has been the predatory Loewy, whose energetic chief executive Charlie Hoult has picked up a trio of highly respected design groups in Bite, Williams Murray Hamm and The Team, but there are others.
The more general shift is expected to involve digital design, which has taken great strides forward as a business performer. It is great that this should coincide with R/GA’s www.nikeplus.com site winning gold – now more soberly referred to as a Black Pencil – in the D&AD Awards. This, coupled with the outstanding success of digital projects in the Design Week Awards over the past couple of years, indicates that the sector is upping its creative standards at the same time as it hits the mainstream in business – and the great joy is that it’s not just about websites.
The potential of digital design is only just being realised, but clients are buying into it and so too, therefore, are consultancies. We have seen just how much over the odds they are prepared to pay for a digital group in a sellers’ market.
So take a moment to celebrate design’s success and embrace the digital future. But be mindful that such triumphs can be shortlived if you let your business practice slip. It’s been a long, hard climb to reach this point. Let’s not drop back again.
Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor