NEWS16 March 2010

New Chime research chief puts faith in clientside expertise

People UK

UK— The new chief executive of Chime’s research division, Crispin Beale, told Research today how he plans to revive the fortunes of the group following ‘very disappointing’ results for 2009.

Beale’s appointment was announced last week when Chime, which owns agencies Facts International, Ledbury Research, Opinion Leader, CaucusWorld, Brand Democracy and Tree, announced its full year results for 2009.

He replaced joint chairs Deborah Mattinson and Viki Cooke, who left the firm earlier this month to start their own business. At the time the results were published, Chime said that Facts International, of which Beale had been in charge for the past 18 months, would be used as a “basis for restructuring the whole division”.

Beale (pictured) told Research today that he is currently looking at ways “to best deploy resources” but was adamant that he was not planning headcount reductions.

“Any changes we make will be within the framework of growing our client-facing teams,” he said.

Beale is keen that the whole division follows Facts International’s policy of seeking staff with clientside research experience.

He said: “In the last 12 months we’ve brought about 18 new people into Facts, and we’re bringing in people with clientside experience so they actually understand the problems and challenges that clients have and that agencies have servicing clients. We want to continue doing that and get the best, most innovative creative thinkers in the research world into the division.”

“I think that sometimes if you’ve been on that clientside you recognise the need for pragmatism,” he said. “The quality of research is absolutely paramount but you have to understand how to apply that within an organisation and sometimes working out how to weed your way through the politics is just as important.”

The new research chief said that while winning new business to improve the division’s performance will be one of his main objectives, the firm will not be overly aggressive in trying to capture new clients. “We’re not planning some sort of hard sell and pushing ourselves down people’s throats,” Beale said. “We want to be working with the best clients and have the right people working for us and then we believe the clients will want to work with us. It’s definitely not going to be some sort of roll up your sleeves and be glorified sales people, that’s not what we do.”

The new chief executive faces the challenge of improving the performance of Chime’s research business, which posted “very disappointing” results for last year while the rest of the group celebrated its “best ever” set of figures.

The group’s CEO Chris Satterthwaite told Research: “If you look at all the major groups, research was consistently the most disappointing performer. Going into the recession everybody said that research is the most resilient through downturns. In fact the absolute opposite was true. I think research has been hit across the marketplace.”

Despite seeing growth in some “key markets”, Satterthwaite said: “Domestically I think we’re being cautious still, because there is an election to come, there’s an awful lot of debt to repay and how will the UK economy be in six months time? I think we’re planning for it not to be that different to as it is now, although as it is now is clearly more stable than it was a year ago.”

In addition to Beale’s promotion, Facts International chairman Nick Lamb has been appointed chairman of Opinion Leader, CaucusWorld and Brand Democracy.