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Former FITCH APAC CEO Andrew Crombie starts brand and design firm

Andrew Crombie (pictured), former CEO at FITCH, Southeast and North Asia, has launched crombie.design, a brand and retail design firm. Crombie left FITCH in October this year and was replaced by Simon Bell who has since been appointed managing director for FITCH in Singapore.

Confirming the move to Marketing in an interview, Crombie explained that the company looks to bring together a network of top level strategists, designers and technologists. This is to create brand designs and experiences that “get results and get talked about”.

The company aims to be a platform for consultancy and design which can tailor solutions for any marketing, brand or retail problem. Currently, it selects specific designers and technologists to meet the project or client at hand. This allows clients to only pay for what they need, and allows the firm to add talent as when is needed.

“We are a prototype of what nearly all businesses will be like in 10 years, if you believe McKinsey. We operate with more flexibility and without the heavy overheads that cripple larger design shops and multinationals. Our key client service team are fixed, but all other disciplines are independent,” Crombie said.

When asked about his strategy moving forward, Crombie explained that through the collaborative model, the company looks to offer the high end strategic thinking and design small companies need but cannot afford. It also looks to offer consultancy and design to companies that do not have substantial international brand and marketing experience in-house.

“Small companies can play like the big boys, but only pay for it when they have to,” Crombie added.

As none of its work is in the public domain yet, crombie.design declined to comment on current clients and projects. Crombie added that over his more than 30 years in this business, he had seen the “steady erosion of quality day-to-day consultancy as bigger titles are given to less qualified people and charge more for the disservice”.

“This has been primarily due to the endless pursuit of margins to cover the spiralling overheads and organisational management costs. It’s ridiculous what is sucked out to pay for global teams you rarely see, and who are irrelevant to the businesses that need our skills the most – up-and-coming businesses,” Crombie said.

For now, the company will be concentrating its efforts on Singapore, which Crombie explained has a demand for great design. However, they will also be looking for growth outside of Singapore as they expand their network offer.

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