Lowe Digital to close and relaunch with new team

- Lowe Howard-Spink has closed its new media unit, Lowe Digital, and plans to relaunch it as a strategic consultancy.

- Lowe Howard-Spink has closed its new media unit, Lowe Digital, and plans to relaunch it as a strategic consultancy.

A decision is expected in the next few weeks announcing the appointment of a new head, who will be tasked with building from scratch a unit with a strategic -- and not design or production -- focus.

Lowes blamed the closure of Lowe Digital on the failure to make a profit in the highly competitive web design market. The unit has in the past been responsible for designing sites for the likes of Braun and Vauxhall, whose Euro 96 football site was one of the most acclaimed sites of that year. However, in recent months Lowe Digital has attracted little new business

According to Tim Lindsay chief executive of Lowe Howard-Spink: "This move is two fold. We want both the flexibility to draw on a wider pool of implementers, which will include web production companies, and we want to create more business for ourselves by getting involved at an earlier process."

He added: "Although we will build sites in-house we don't see our business developing along those lines, and we do not see having those facilities in house as being crucial."

The closure, which was announced to staff this morning (Monday 20 April), is effective immediately and means the departure of three of Lowe Digital's five staff. Two on the account management side are to be reemployed in other parts of the agency. However, this does not include Deborah Loth, the Lowe Digital creative director, who will leave.

The move follows the departure of a number of staff in recent months who have not been replaced. These date back more than nine months to the exit of Charlie Dobres, the former head of Lowe Digital, and now the general secretary of the Internet Advertising Bureau. The department shrunk from eight under Dobres to five in March this year when Matt Morrison, a media planner and buyer, left to become commercial manager at BMP.

Lowes was one of the first agencies to launch a new-media department in 1994. Under Mark Dickinson and Robert Hamilton, the department earned the agency a reputation as one of only a handful which understood new-media, thanks especially to its Vauxhall work. Dickinson and Hamilton left to form Indexfinger in 1996. Lowe Digital launched as a formal unit under Dobres later that year.