NEWS7 March 2012

Chime unveils Watermelon as research results improve

Financials UK

UK— Chime Communications has launched a new digital research business, Watermelon, as its insight and engagement division reports a 17% rise in annual revenue.

Watermelon is co-owned by Chime and its leadership team, Mark Squires, the former group operations director of Chime Insight and Engagement (CIE) and Nick Lamb, who is chairman of CIE and Watermelon.

The company has been set up to provide IVR and online surveys, communities, online forums, mobile surveys, eye-tracking, social media monitoring, cookie tracking and text analytics services. It also offers clients a platform to access their research at any point in the research process – from checking the questionnaire and providing online dashboards to interactive data portals.

It already has its first client, Incite – the research consultancy that was sold last month to marketing services group St Ives.

CIE chief executive Crispin Beale said: “We are delighted that clients are already embracing the benefits that Watermelon has to offer.”

For 2011 CIE reported revenue of £12.1m with operating income up 8% to £7.9m (a 2% increase like-for-like). Headline operating profit was up 35% (or 21% like-for-like) to £1m – a margin of 12.8% compared to 10.3% in the prior year.

Commenting on the performance, Chime chairman Lord Bell (pictured) said: “Tree, our data analytics business, continues to grow and the combined qualitative and quantitative business also grew.” Aside from Tree, Chime also owns the research businesses Facts International, Opinion Leader and Naked Eye.

Total group revenue, including PR, advertising and marketing services and sports marketing, was £325.9m with operating income up 10% to £163.6m.