Planet purchase makes Coleman world player

A new global player in packaging design has been created by the US-based Coleman Group Worldwide buying a stake in Planet, the 15-year-old, 44-strong London packaging design consultancy.

The Coleman Group – itself part of the Interpublic Group – is claiming it is now the third largest design group in the world, following a similar deal three months ago with Switzerland-based international packaging and identity consultancy Schmidlin & Partner.

The Coleman Group now numbers around 135 staff, which it claims puts it behind Landor and Interbrand in the ranks of global design groups. European managing director Stephen Merry says Coleman Group is hungry to expand further. Chairman and CEO Owen Coleman says the investments offer solid advantages. “Too many design firms have created loose, handshake alliances in an attempt to provide multinational clients with global design solutions,” he says.

Planet is being renamed Coleman Planet & Partners. Schmidlin & Partner, which also has offices in Spain, Germany and Portugal, has been renamed Coleman Schmidlin & Partner.

Planet creative director Bill Wallsgrove declines to reveal the size of The Coleman Group’s holding in Planet nor how much was paid, but he describes the stake as “considerable”.

Although The Coleman Group’s holding is not a majority, it is set to increase under the terms of the “progressive” deal, says Wallsgrove, who adds that the six partners in Planet will remain as such.

Commenting on why Planet – a pioneer of structural packaging design – found the deal attractive, Wallsgrove says The Coleman Group “are not a bunch of accountants, they are designers”.

Wallsgrove says the deal is good for Planet’s staff as it will provide mobility around the group and “interesting career opportunities”.

Planet is already working with Coleman Schmidlin & Partner’s Spanish office on a joint project. Wallsgrove says the two companies are a “good fit – they have a degree of structural experience, but they have a considerable amount in toiletries and personal care, while ours is in food”.

Wallsgrove predicts Planet and The Coleman Group will continue to expand. “Their whole plan is to build a worldwide group,” he says. The US group’s brands work in multimedia and on the Internet will be drawn on to expand the services Planet offers.

“We have access to new products we can sell and so we are going to have to bring people in, both designers and marketers,” adds Wallsgrove.

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