NEWS23 February 2011

GfK boss Klaus Wübbenhorst to step down next year

Europe News People

GERMANY— Klaus Wübbenhorst, who has served as CEO of research giant GfK since 1998, is stepping down next summer “for personal reasons”, the company has announced.

Wübbenhhorst told the company’s supervisory board today that he will not renew his contract when it comes to an end in July 2012.

He said now was “a good time for GfK to plan for a change of management in the medium term and for myself, it is a welcome opportunity to seek fresh challenges in pastures new”.

Wübbenhorst, who makes the announcement on his 55th birthday, said: “In 2012 I will have been with GfK for 20 years. I can look back over the past years with pride and joy, particularly with respect to 2010. Last year, in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, we were able to lead the company to new record heights, achieving the best-ever results.”

Arno Mahlert, who chairs GfK’s supervisory board, said that in Wübbenhorst’s time with GfK the agency “has evolved from being a company focused on Germany with sales of €150m on the edge of illiquidity to a leading global player, a listed enterprise returning a sales volume of around €1.3bn.”

“Although we deeply regret this decision, we understand and accept Professor Dr Wübbenhorst’s reasons,” said Mahlert. “With his support, we should be able to achieve an orderly handover.”

Wübbenhorst joined GfK in 1992 and became CEO in 1998. He oversaw the firm’s stock exchange launch in 1999, the £383m acquisition of NOP-World in 2005 and the abortive plan to merge with TNS in 2008.

GfK is the world’s fourth-largest research agency by revenue, according to Jack Honomichl’s latest industry ranking.