NEWS28 January 2011

Harris Interactive to ‘substantially reposition’ UK business

People UK

US— Harris Interactive CEO Kimberley Till has announced a major reorganisation of the firm’s UK operations, which has “shown negative trends in revenue and profit for the past four years”. As part of the shake-up Harris has axed the role of international president held by Robert Salvoni, who will be leaving the firm next month.

Till said that while the UK business had shown “strong” new sales growth in 2010, it had failed to retain some of its repeat business. Most notably, a “multi-million dollar tracker” – the UK team’s largest piece of work – was lost in October last year after “significant personnel changes” at the client, which saw seven trackers consolidated into one.

The loss of the contract had a $4m negative effect on bookings for the three months ending 31 December, while second-half revenue will be impacted to the tune of $3.9m, Till said.

“As soon as we learned of this loss, we put in place a plan to reduce our cost base in the UK,” she explained. Fifteen jobs were axed, however the headcount savings are not enough to make up for the loss of profit on the contract, Till said – hence the need for “a strategic repositioning”, led by the firm’s co-CEOs for France, Nathalie Perrio-Combeaux and Patrick Van Bloeme, who take over the running of UK operations.

Till said: “We believe that they will be able to lead a strategic repositioning of our UK business and substantially improve its financial performance.”

The plan is for the UK business to become a “leading innovator”, and the firm will set about “improving and differentiating” product offerings and creating more efficient research operations. Till admitted that it may take a “few quarters” for any benefits to be seen.

In connection with the management changes, Till said Salvoni had “agreed to leave” the company in early February, when Till and the respective regional management teams will assume responsibility for Canada, Europe and Asia.

In its financial results, published late yesterday, Harris reported “slow” revenue growth, rising to $44.9m from $44.6m a year ago, while operating income increased from $0.6m to $0.9m.

@RESEARCH LIVE

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