небольшая статья в Financial Times про проблемы дизайнерских агентств. крупным фирмам приходится туго, но и мелким нелегко. хорошо агентствам, в которых работает 19 человек. ещё лучше, если они все работают на "еду-питьё", или на "тряпки". совсем хорошо - если на правительство.
Things falling further apart
FT.com site; Jun 24, 2002
While the general fortunes of the design industry are improving slowly, the gap between successful and failing agencies is bigger than ever - and according to David Jebb & Associates' latest quarterly report on design businesses' performance, the outlook for some lower quartile companies is very bleak.
The management consultancy, which specialises in the design business, says that in the first quarter of 2002, the gap in the average annual operating profit per employee between upper quartile and lower quartile agencies widened by 23 per cent - the biggest jump it has ever recorded. It now stands at nearly ý35,000, compared with ý28,400 in the previous quarter. The lower ranking agencies are losing nearly ý13,000 per employee, and the upper agencies are making just over ý22,000.
Jebb believes that the poor performance of the lower quartile agencies is down to size. "Some smaller companies have suffered a 'flight to safety', with clients allocating projects to better established competitors," he says. These agencies, he adds, are also likely to suffer from wage inflation. The middle-sized agencies, of 10-19 people, are currently the most profitable, as the bigger groups are suffering from too few big projects to feed them.
At the same time, the lowest ranking agencies' were making an average operating loss equivalent to 26 per cent of their gross income, while the upper quartile agencies' average profit was 27 per cent of gross income. Again, this gap has widened between the last quarter of 2001 and the first quarter this year.
Jebb believes agencies in the lower quartile are feeling acute pain now because they didn't make enough cuts last year. Amanda Merron, partner at accountancy firm Willott Kingston Smith, agrees, arguing: "The bigger agencies have shed more staff proportionately, which improves their productivity, while agencies owned by parent groups will have been forced to shed."
Dave Allen of Enterprise IG, a branding agency owned by WPP, says that while bigger agencies tend to cut costs across the board, smaller agencies are more likely to cut staff from the top than from the bottom.
In terms of discipline, packaging design, which had an appalling fourth quarter when buyers effectively went on strike, has picked up. However, performance depends heavily on which sector the agency focuses on, says management consultant Ian Cochcrane of the Tice Group. "Food and drink, clothing and government are doing well. But if you service the professional and financial services or technology companies, you're stuffed for the moment."
Jebb says the gap between large and small agencies was closing in the first half of 2001, but he now expects it to grow further. "A lot of small agencies that are struggling will go out of business," he says.