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Boots the Chemists has said that its marketing services deal with WPP Group (DW 20 October) will not affect its arrangements for commissioning design. Is this a realistic position or do you feel that in the long run smaller creative groups will lose out?

‘Obviously, that depends on the strategy. It sounds like they are considering a “top-down” strategy which, for retailers of any kind, can be both dangerous and damaging. Let’s hope that the eventual strategy will be inclusive, gathering all existing groups to participate in its structure and direction. There is a body of experience which will ultimately benefit Boots and the growth of its brand. There is no doubt that Boots needs a shake-up. Standing still is not an option in retail.’

Paul King, Chairman, M&K Design

‘I trust Boots implicitly and so I can believe that it is going to do as it says. However, I cannot believe that the branding companies which are part of the WPP Group are not planning to muscle in for their piece of the action. Therefore, smaller creative consultancies could well start losing work until Boots notices that while WPP Group owns the major players in the industry, it does not necessarily own the best.’

Bruce Duckworth, Managing Director, Turner Duckworth

‘I believe that such an agreement will help Boots to strengthen its brand message, especially since it is ambitious when it comes to testing new markets. Such a diverse group as the WPP Group will provide a great deal of scope for Boots, and will inevitably streamline some of its future activities with non-WPP design consultancies. With so many mergers and “alliances” in recent years, it will really be up to the smaller consultancies to remain influential and at the cutting-edge, so that clients such as Boots will continue to see the value in using individual design consultants.’

Glenn Kinnersley, Partner, KinnersleyKent Design

‘Under the guidance of John McConnell, Boots pioneered the design roster as we know it. Key to its success was the consistent commissioning of the industry’s best talent. These consultancies were not chosen for their size or group muscle, but for their talent and sympathy with the brand and its objectives. Why would anyone want to change that?’

Mary Lewis, Creative Director, Lewis Moberly

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