WPP-owned BDG/McColl and retail specialist Section D have formed a working agreement and are engaging in joint projects. The acquisition of Section D by WPP has not been ruled out.
BDG/McColl new business manager Susan Williamson confirms that the two groups have been talking about establishing a relationship for “about a year”.
“We have complementary skills and are interested in the same sort of projects,” she says. Section D is a small Harrogate consultancy which places emphasis on research and strategic thinking, while BDG/McColl is a big organisation with the ability to implement major projects.
Williamson says the two groups have already embarked on joint projects, but is keeping details under wraps. Although Section D traditionally sticks to retail work, Williamson describes that sector as “blurring at the edges”.
The exact nature of any long-term relationship is still under discussion.
“We don’t necessarily need a formal agreement,” she says, but adds, “WPP is always looking for interesting companies.”
BDG/McColl chairman Stephen Hitchins was among several WPP staff present at the launch of Section D’s latest retail sector report in London last week, suggesting that the relationship between the consultancies has become a strong one. “We find Section D culturally compatible,” says Williamson.
Section D’s third retail report explores the challenges facing retailers. Consultancy director Bob Stansfield says even retailers such as Boots and Marks & Spencer could do better in design and service terms.
He says Boots, for example, is well known as a pharmacy and cosmetics chain, and questions why it also sells typewriters.