Two former founding partners of Wolverhampton-based Connect and the former client services director of Leicester-based Big are launching a new agency founded on a philosophy of keeping it small.
Chapter, which is based in a converted church in Wythall, is being set up by two ex-founding partners and creative directors of Connect, Ian Boulter and Martin Heffernan, along with Mike Rose, who previously worked for Big as well as Connect.
The full-service agency has a clause drafted into its shareholder agreement that it will never employ more than 30 people.
Managing director Mr Rose explained: “It’s written into our shareholder agreement to always remain at the most effective size so that we can offer clients a deeper, more consistent understanding of their business and a more accurate, quicker return on briefs.
“We see the agency as never being more than 30 people, handling between nine and twelve key clients and we will structure our business to safeguard the effective way that we work, with a number of dedicated multi-discipline client teams rather than separate, disconnected departments and unnecessary machinery.
“In these cells, you would have a creative team and digital designer, both actively involved with the client, project manager and artwork/production all working side by side.
“As Chapter grows over time, we will have three of these cells, each one personally overseen by one of the founding partners.
“This structure will be supported by our strategic partnerships with experienced specialists in areas from planning and research to digital planning, media planning and channel planning.”
Mr Rose said that although it was a tough launching a new agency in the midst of a recession, the company’s structure would ensure it will be able to ride out the difficult times.
“Flexibility is critical at the moment,” he said. “We are having lots of conversations with pretty major brands and what does seem to be coming through is this sense of having less budget and the budget needing to work twice as hard in recessionary times.”
Mr Heffernan added: “This is a way of working that’s right for the current climate and, the way the industry should be going.
“We’re talking to a lot of potential clients at the moment, all with the same challenge – the need to maintain standards and hit challenging targets, but with budgets dramatically cut.
“This is not simply about delivering a cost-advantage, it’s more about sharper thinking from a more focused team and about being flexible and adapting to these changing needs.”
Mr Boulter explained how the venture came about. “Martin and myself were founding partners in Connect, helping to build it into a highly successful agency,” he said.
“We’re particularly proud of the creative reputation we built up there and all the gongs we’ve won but it’s time to move on and do something different that matches our strengths and our views - as well as effectively responding to the challenges our clients are currently facing.
“Mike was the perfect person to team up with – he’s got a huge amount of experience and an impressive track record.
“The three of us have worked together in the past and we have worked well as a team and we started talking last summer about doing something together again.”