Global sights for CDG

Tom Bawden follows the progress of Conran Design Group and its recent takeover of Interface RSCG. If all goes to plan it could be a world force to be reckoned with, he says.

The signs are that the recent activity at Conran Design Group is set to continue into the foreseeable future. The group has just subsumed fellow Havas Advertising-owned literature group Interface RSCG and is moving into bigger premises in London’s Clerkenwell.

And with the world’s fifth biggest media organisation behind him, in the form of Havas Group, CDG managing director David Worthington says he is in a position to grow the consultancy as and when the appropriate opportunities arise.

Worthington resurrected the name Conran Design Group 18 months ago, following the acquisition of Worthington & Co by RSCG Conran. Part of his remit was to provide a design-led vision which was regarded by Havas Advertising director Jacques Herail to be lacking at the time.

Worthington has now brought on board Interface in a cashless deal and signed contracts with two unnamed new clients.

CDG currently offers retail, graphics and new media from its existing operation, with Interface bringing its literature capability to the pot.

In the longer term, Worthington plans to extend the group’s range and reach – starting with the addition of product design.

“I have a scheme to get us into product design which I expect to come to fruition in the future,” says Worthington, who will not be any more specific.

He says CDG is increasingly working abroad and making connections, and has an eye on some kind of overseas alliance.

“We are part of Havas Advertising, which is part of Havas Group, the fifth biggest media group in the world. Do media groups of that size have money? The world is becoming a smaller place and we are interested in forging more partnerships,” says the cryptic Worthington.

The Interface deal brings some of the advantages of an overseas alliance. The London group works exclusively for Citren and brings five French speakers to CDG.

“Citren is a very strong design brand and works across the territories. It is inextricably linked with design and we are delighted to be linked to it on an international scale,” says Worthington.

CDG also reaches overseas markets through joint-projects with Paris group Euro RSCG Design, also in the Havas fold.

On the domestic side, Worthington doesn’t rule out the possibility of working with other Havas design groups, such as Real Time Studio and CGI.

The consultancy’s name has an incestuous history. Terence Conran set up Conran Design Group, which he later sold to the then RSCG Group. The acquired consultancy became RSCG Conran.

The current activity started when RSCG Conran bought Worthington & Co, appointing Worthington to head up the enlarged consultancy.

That deal boosted RSCG Conran’s graphics capability and added new media skills to its existing retail capability.

Worthington would not comment on the terms of the deal at the time but said “a fair and undisclosed sum was paid” for his consultancy (DW 9 August 1996). The new set-up shortly ditched RSCG from its name.

Since then, Worthington has endeavoured to bring the consultancy to one of global standing, as part of one of the less high-profile big media networks. The success of the deal will become evident when he announces two new clients in the coming weeks.

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