Independent marketing services conglomerate Loewy has acquired product design group Seymour Powell for an undisclosed sum, Design Week can reveal exclusively. The move is Loewy’s latest high profile creative addition to its network and is described by chief executive Charlie Hoult as a ‘merger’.
Under the terms of the deal, Seymour Powell’s directors and a raft of yet-to-be appointed associates will receive ‘shares in Loewy and some cash’.
Seymour Powell retains its name for now, though cofounder Dick Powell says, ‘the Loewy name carries a lot of clout’. No decision has been made to adopt it, but it has not been ruled out. According to Richard Seymour, ‘It has assured the succession of the business.’ Powell adds that he and Seymour have been ‘17 years working to this moment’. Hoult will join the Seymour
Powell board, alongside Loewy chief finance office Bryan Wilsher, group managing director Ed Hardy and group finance director Jane Latham. However, the Seymour Powell management team – Seymour, Powell, financial director Russell Lloyd, who brokered the deal, and design directors Nick Talbot, David Fisher and Adrian Caroen – will be left to run the business.
Loewy is meanwhile looking to develop collaborative teams to bring its consultancies together, which would affiliate Seymour Powell with Loewy stablemates such as Williams Murray Hamm, Bite, Epoch Design and The Team. ‘It’s imperative that we settle people into being part of the group first, assuring the clients that it really is “business as usual”,’ says Hoult.
Both parties in the Seymour Powell merger see the symmetry of bringing product design back into a group founded by the seminal industrial designer Raymond Loewy, known largely because of his streamlined 1950s designs as ‘the man who shaped America’. ‘It’s a delicious theme,’ says Seymour. ‘Raymond Loewy invented product design. It’s a threshold moment.’ Seymour talks of ‘a natural affinity’ with Hoult’s light touch and the Loewy name. ‘It’s a meeting of minds thing,’ he says. ‘We’ve spoken to lots of people [about selling the business], but with most it would feel like selling the kids.’
THE SEYMOUR POWELL STORY
• Seymour Powell was established in 1984, and was ranked 24th in DW’s 2007 Top 100 Consultancy Survey (DW 31 May)
• It earned fees of £4.02m in the year to end-December 2006 on turnover of £4.8m, reporting 51 staff, including 40 designers, based in its west London office
• Loewy Group was set up in the US in 1929 by Raymond Loewy