Overseas interests and new business models are helping groups prosper

It is sheer coincidence that we focus on groups moving into Singapore in the week we reveal the 2010 Top 100 listing (see News Analysis).

The more successful branding groups this year tend to be those with overseas interests – or at least projects abroad – and, in many instances, it is that that kept them buoyant through the turbulence of last year.

The Singapore piece was prompted by Elmwood’s move out East with Dominic Mason heading the outpost (DW 20 May). Ironically, Elmwood didn’t fare brilliantly last year, with fee-income down 12 per cent, in line with several groups. But that is due in part to tough times in Scotland where it has an office – note also Tayburn’s 7 per cent decline – and expansion plans initiated last autumn bode well for the 10 per cent projected growth in 2010.

A stronger example is Start Creative, which has work in India, Russia, Hong Kong, Dubai and more recently Qatar. Its growth of 29 per cent last year is due largely to juggling these markets and to global clients such as Virgin Mobile and Adidas, but it is also open to doing things in a different way – note its partnership with Manchester-based interiors group Judge Gill and newish events venture Start Live. These factors will almost certainly contribute to the 15 per cent growth it expects this year.

Judging by overall projections from Top 100 groups, things are on the upturn. Almost a third are anticipating fees up by 20 per cent or more. Some will achieve this by escalating overseas input – Figtree Design, for example, is opening in Hong Kong, having consolidated its presence in Paris. But expansion abroad isn’t right for all consultancies and many will seek to achieve their goals through different means.

The likelihood is though that those who steam ahead over the next few months will be those that do business differently, whether at home or abroad. It’s about creating new models, enjoying the process and producing great work.

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