Conran Design Group merges with 35 Communications

Conran Design Group is joining forces with independent public sector and corporate branding specialist 35 Communications in a ground-breaking deal.

It is more usual for global marketing services groups, such as CDG parent Havas, to put consultancies within their stables together, than for one of their consultancies to court an independent partner.

Under the deal, both CDG and 35 Communications will retain their names, but will operate as one company within Havas. A management team comprising CDG managing partner Jane Simmonds, 35 Communications director Nigel Forsyth, creative director Lee Hoddy and director Thom Newton will lead the merged group.

The four worked together six years ago when Fitch London, of which Simmonds was also a managing partner, merged with Cordiant Communications Group stablemate Bamber Forsyth.

Five-year-old 35 Communications has joined Havas to forge links with CDG, which has strengths in 3D branding and consumer communications. Its founders have transferred 35 Communications’ equity into the joint company. CDG is planning to move into 35 Communications’ premises in London’s Camden next month.

According to Simmonds, the deal is fuelled by a mutual desire for growth. The two groups will have access to each other’s clients and will pursue joint projects. It is likely they will buy in other consultancies and have identified trend-forecasting as a possible target.

‘We want to get into markets such as corporate reports and digital design,’ she says – areas where 35 Communications has much expertise. CDG has some experience of annual report work as a result of its merger in 2006 with Havas stablemate CGI Brandsense, but this hasn’t been developed, says Simmonds.

Meanwhile, 35 Communications will benefit from CDG’s overseas reach.

Simmonds describes the deal as a ‘truly equal’ partnership. Each partner has a team of some 30 people and because their roles are complementary, there will be no redundancies. ‘

There will be more legs on the table,’ says Simmonds, ‘so we will be more stable.’

It is more likely that the teams will grow, she adds. CDG is recruiting for a new senior creative position for 3D branding to complement its three design directors.


2008 – Conran Design Group merges with 35 Communications under parent Havas

2006 – David Worthington is axed as CDG managing director, as it is merges with Havas stablemate CGI Brandsense

2004 – David Chaloner is ousted as CDG retail design director

2003 – Keith Bamber and Nigel Forsyth join former Bamber Forsyth directors Lee Hoddy and Thom Newton at 35 Communications, having walked out of Cordiant Communications Group

2003 – Jane Simmonds, previously managing partner of Fitch London, joins CDG as client services director.

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