While the Design Week Top 100 has shown some very positive results over the past couple of years, this year’s figures indicate a slightly tougher commercial environment than some might expect.
A total of 66 consultancies in the 2015 Top 100 table were also in last year’s rankings, and among these groups the average change in fee income is 8 per cent growth.
This is down from last year’s average growth figure of 13.6 per cent and the 14 per cent figure recorded in 2013.
The Top 100 figures tie in with accountant KingstonSmithW1’s annual report for 2014, which showed that while growth gross income at design consultancies remained “steady” at five per cent, this increase was slower than in the past three years.
KingstonSmithW1 also warned that while gross income growth was on the rise, this had been countered by increases in staff and other costs, which were affecting the bottom line.
The accountant warns: “As the industry and the wider economy emerge from the economic woes of the past six years, there is going to be pressure on process from landlords and other suppliers. The manner in which agencies deal with these pressures will affect profitability over the next 12 months.”
Advertising is the smallest sector in the Design Week Top 100, accounting for just £17.5 million of fee income.
A large proportion of that can be attributed to BWP Group, which has recorded an advertising fee income of £7 million, nearly double the £3.8 million it reported last year.
Unsurprisingly, BWP Group tops the advertising table again this year, as it did last year.
In second spot, Bostock and Pollitt has nearly trebled its advertising fee income, up from £536,000 last year to £1.4 million this year.
The other returning groups are Refinery, which has seen its advertising fee income drop by a third, Cygnus Associates, which has more than doubled its advertising income, and Love, which records a slight increase.
New in the table this year are Front Page, Jellyfish Online, Oakwood, Assembly Studios and Chaos Design.
They replace Rufus Leonard, Bolder Creative, Ferrier Pearce, HRG and Music
Similarly to the print chart, there are plenty of consultancies breaking inot the branding chart for the first time this year.
Bloom, The Team, Dalziel & Pow and SomeOne are all ranked in the branding chart. Of these consultancies, both Bloom and SomeOne are making their debuts in the Top 100 main table this year as well.
These consultancies replace Blue Marlin, Echo Brand Design and Conran, all of whom declined to enter the Top 100 this year.
JKR remains at the top of the branding table, despite a very slight dip in its branding income. Design Bridge moves up to second having nearly doubled the amount of money it makes in branding. The consultancy has worked on recent branding and packaging projects for the likes of Fortnum & Mason, Dulux and Lipton Ice Tea.
Further down the table, Rufus Leonard moves up to third spot, having increased its branding income by nearly £1 million, and Radley Yeldar moves up one place, from seventh to sixth, having put around £500,000 extra on to its branding fee income.
StartJG has also increased its branding fee income, by around £200,000, while DesignStudio has seen a slight decline in branding fees, dropping from sixth to tenth spot in the branding table.
While digital income has dropped slightly in the main Top 100 table, incomes among the top consultancies on this year’s digital chart have grown consistently.
There’s only one newcomer in this year’s digital chart – Catch Digital, which takes tenth spot with a fee income of £1.6 million.
The consultancy pushes out The Team, which has seen its digital income drop from £2.3 million last year to £1.5 million this year.
At the top of the chart, Ustwo, Reading Room and StartJG all occupy the lead three positions, as they did last year. All have seen digital fee incomes grow by between £1 million and £2 million.
Further down the chart, Precedent, Radley Yeldar, Rufus Leonard, Code Computerlove and CDS have all also seen income increases of around the £1 million mark.
The only consultancy in the digital chart to report a decline in digital fee income is Rippleffect, which has seen fee incomes fall slightly from £5.1 million to £4.9 million.
Retail giants Checkland Kindleysides and Dalziel & Pow lead the Top 100 interiors chart this year, with both increasing their interiors fee income.
Checkland Kindleysides has put on more than £1 million extra to take its retail fee income to £10.1 million, while Dalziel & Pow’s has increased to £7.6 million.
Circlesquare has moved up from fourth to third spot, having increased its retail fee income from £3.1 million to £4.4 million.
New in the chart this year are Green Room Design, rpa:group and JHP, who replace Event Communications, Allen International and Brinkworth, none of whom entered the Top 100 this year.
Elsewhere in the chart, there are income rises for The One Off and Sheridan & Co, which has been boosted by an increase of more than £1 million, and slight declines for both TBA and Household Design.
Overall though, the interior design sector has shown one of the biggest sector income growths in the Top 100 – from £36 million to £42 million – and this is generally reflected in the interiors table.
The packaging sector has shown a sharp decline in this year’s Top 100, with overall packaging incomes falling from £82 million to £56 million.
This is reflected at the top of the packaging chart, with top placed Design Bridge and second placed Elmwood both reporting declines in packaging incomes.
Both consultancies still record impressive figures however, with Design Bridge reporting a packaging income of £22.3 million and Elmwood reporting £6.9 million.
There are also plenty of newcomers in this year’s packaging design chart, with The One Off, BOS Design, DewGibbons, Chaos Design and Refinery all appearing for the first time.
All these consultancies have reported more than £1 million in packaging incomes, with BOS Design notable for its 86 per cent increase in fee income in the main Top 100 chart.
The newcomers have replaced Equator, BrandOpus, Pearlfisher, 1HQ and Springetts, all of whom declined to enter the Top 100 this year.
Elsewhere in the chart Seymourpowell, which reported a dip in its product design fee income, has nearly doubled its fee income from packaging – up from £1.8 million to £3.5 million.
Bulletproof has also seen an increase, up from £4.9 million to £5.2 million, while BrandMe has seen a slight decline in packaging income.
Print incomes are up slightly in the Top 100 this year and there are plenty of new faces in the print discipline chart.
A total of eight consultancies are in the top 10 print consultancies this year, having not charted last year.
Embrace, Chaos Design, Luminous, Elmwood, Oakwood, Clear Graphics, Ferrier Pearce and Refinery are all in the print table this year.
They replace Radley Yeldar, Emperor, Linney Design, The One Off, BWP Group, The Team, Dalziel & Pow and HRG, all of whom have dropped out.
None of these consultancies has shown a significant decline in overall income, so presumably all are picking up work in areas other than print – other than HRG which is ineligible for this year’s Top 100 table having been bought by international network, and Linney Design, which hasn’t entered the Top 100 this year.
The two returning groups in this year’s print chart are Checkland Kindleysides, which moves from second to first spot this year, and CDS, which moves from eighth to third.
Product design is one of the smaller sectors in the Design Week Top 100 – just £19.9 million of design income was set against product design this year, making it the second-smallest category, larger than only advertising.
Despite this, income in product design was up very slightly, from £19.7 million last year.
This year only eight consultancies in the Top 100 reported fee income from product design and just two of them – DCA Design International and Seymourpowell – reported product design fee incomes of more than £1 million.
Like last year, Warwick-based DCA Design International is again top of the product design table, with a fee income of £12.3 million, down very slightly from last year.
Seymourpowell has seen a more significant drop in product fee income, from £5.7 million to £4.7 million, but nevertheless retains its second spot in the product design table.
Newcomers to the product design chart are Precipice Design, which reports nearly £1 million in product fee income, Creative Triangle and Love.
They replace Purpose, TS Design, Conran and 1HQ, all of whom were featured in last year’s product design table and all of whom declined to enter the Top 100 this year.