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Johnson backs Loewy merger to create new design force

LONDON - The Loewy name behind the design of some of the 20th century's most iconic brands, including the Coca-Cola bottle and Lucky Strikes, is part of a five-way merger to create a new marketing services group, which is backed by Luke Johnson.

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The merger brings together design group Raymond Loewy International -- which was founded by Raymond Loewy, dubbed the father of industrial design -- with Wilson Harvey, Prescient, Loewy3 and RiteAngle. The merged group will cover a number of marketing disciplines: corporate design and marketing consultancy; branding; annual reports; market research; fieldwork and data collection; packaging; 3D design; and interiors.

Renamed the Loewy Group, the new business, which will have recently appointed chairman of Channel 4 Luke Johnson as its chair, will have some 50 staff and a turnover of more than £6m.

Clients of the business include Lastminute.com, Eurostar, Computacenter, Kimberly-Clark, NSPCC, Reed Exhibitions, BAA, Welsh Development Agency, Volkswagen UK, Nutricia, Shepherd Neame, RAC, Pfizer, Oxford University and AOL.

According to Johnson, the Loewy heritage was one of the reasons for backing the merger.

"The reason we invested is that Loewy has a heritage as one of the originals in creative services, like a Starck, Ogilvy, Fitch or JWT -- it's a wonderful brand. We've brought together a superb core of partner businesses, characterised by entrepreneurial management, consistent profit records and high-quality output," he said.

The business will be run day-to-day by chief executive Charlie Hoult, who joins from Wilson Harvey. Hoult has a track record as a entrepreneur and marketing specialist who made his name building Incisive Research Publishing, sold to Incisive Media, and developing Wilson Harvey over nine years.

"The new team has the opportunity of a Tom Ford coming to Gucci or a Stella McCartney to Chloe -- great heritage, committed clients and projects where creativity makes a difference. New investment is targeted at investing in the creative talent and strategic management to develop the synergies between our service offerings," Hoult said.

The new firm boasts a host of design talent including: Paul Burgess, who has worked with clients Pfizer, Reed Exhibitions, Oxford University and Computacenter and produced a string of design books for the industry; Julie Giddens, who has picked up a fistful of awards for corporate design work in branding and investor relations for BT, British Gas and Lloyd's of London; and Phil Heaton, who continues the Loewy heritage of oil, retail, rail and automobiles with branding and brand environment projects for some of the world's biggest brands including Orange, BA, Volkswagen, Toyota, Sainsbury's, Petrobras, Saab and Guess Jeans.

Other figures at the combined firm are Jonathan Shaw, who heads up the consumer brands part of the group, and group finance director Bryan Wilsher.

Raymond Loewy has been variously described as "the father of industrial design" and "the man who shaped America" for his influence on design and image. He started Loewy in 1929. He was featured on the front cover of Time magazine in October 1949, with the headline "Designer Raymond Loewy: He streamlines the sales curve". His curvaceous, 50s design style was known as streamlining -- an influence that can still be seen today in the Chrysler PT Cruiser or the Smeg fridge.

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