FEATURE20 September 2011

Overseas shopping a big draw for Market Force/Retail Eyes

Features News

Retail Eyes CEO Tim Ogle sheds some light on what’s next for the firm and its new owner, Market Force Information, following yesterday’s acquisition announcement.

Research: How long has this deal been in the pipeline?
We decided to go on this journey [to find a buyer] about 18 months ago. We appointed Results International [a strategic adviser to the marcoms industry] to advise us, and it then came down to about four very firm bids. But, really and truly from day one, Market Force and us had such a close alignment and synergy that it was the right deal for us to do.

Are there going to be any changes in the day-to-day running of the company?
The existing leadership team will stay in place in Milton Keynes and I will be given the added responsibility of working with Market Force to expand into Europe and beyond, which is a key part of the plan we both have. There will not be any redundancies as we grew 46% last year and plan to grow aggressively in the future. As far as the Retail Eyes name, we’re looking at ways to leverage the Market Force brand and roll that out in early 2012.

How do you think clients will benefit from the deal?
One huge benefit for them will be working with the Market Force analytics solution that links feedback and improvements to financial reporting, which we can now offer them directly. I think that there’s an appetite for that sort of analytics in the UK. We’ll also be looking at ways to augment the current offer for our clients in the UK, whether that be analytics, IVR or customer satisfaction work.

With the two companies on either side of the Atlantic, will each be given a region to focus on?
There will be no territories as such. We will work together as one team and there will be a lot of sharing of best practice and methodology. I expect that there will be as much going over to the States as there will be coming to Retail Eyes.

You’ve mentioned expanding into Europe – is the company doing anything there now and how do you plan to grow there?
We currently have mystery shopping and customer intelligence projects in 10 countries for people like Dominos, Subway and Game but we’re also seeing an increased appetite from European-based clients.

It’s an embryonic market and one that we’re really keen to pioneer. I liken the mystery shopping market in Europe to how the UK market was 10 years ago when we were in the very early days of technology-based feedback solutions.

In terms of customer feedback management in Europe, it’s currently being managed by local field marketing agencies that offer it as an add-on to their core service. We fill a great niche between those companies and the likes of TNS and Synovate who are at the very far end of the spectrum. We’re ambitious, bordering on being aggressive, and looking for imminent progress – within weeks and months rather than years.

What about the rest of the world? Do you have any plans to expand further afield?
Market Force already has fairly substantial operations in Latin America and from a UK perspective, we’ll be the springboard to start operations in the Middle East. In November this year we will go live with our first customer intelligence programme in Shanghai for one of the world’s largest food services group, so we’re already looking towards Asia. We want to establish a genuine global presence.