Design leads marketing services, says report

Design is the fastest growing sector of the marketing services industry, with a 25 per cent cumulative rise in income for the top 20 consultancies, according to a new survey. Accountant Willott Kingston Smith’s Marketing Monitor report is published at the end of this week.

Amanda Merron, partner at WKS, puts the growth down to groups “trying to move on to higher ground”, and away from basic design work. “I have two design clients which are giving their strategic briefs to ad agencies,” she says. “It’s the battle for the chief executive’s ear.”

Gross income to employment costs is at 166 per cent, its highest level since January 1993. As efficiency improves, more consultancies are introducing remuneration packages, tying reward to performance, according to the survey.

Merron gives two reasons for this: “It’s a very buoyant recruitment market with everyone chasing a limited group of good people,” and, as mergers and acquisitions continue, “groups want to tie in senior people to ensure succession”.

The fall in the index for operating profit per head from 173 in January to 165, suggests increased non-staff overheads such as property costs.

WKS warns designers against committing to long-term expenditure, as happened in the last recession. Merron is confident that “the last dip is still fresh in people’s minds”.

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