NEWS10 April 2018

Obituary: Derek Martin

News People UK

UK – Derek Martin, a giant of the market research industry, died recently at the age of 79 after a short illness.

After attending Dartford Grammar School (before Mick Jagger) he took a degree in history at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

He worked for Smith, Kline and French (now GSK) before founding Martin Hamblin Research with his wife Maggie and Chris Hamblin in the early sixties. Later, Alan Bowditch replaced Chris and developed the pharma side of the business.

The agency grew continuously and before selling to GfK in 2004 it was turning over £20m and was reputedly the only independent large agency that managed such a high turnover without having any major continuous services.

MH was a byword in the industry for quality and consistency. The 25th anniversary party at Spencer House was a memorable event not just for the hospitality but for the large number of industry leaders attending.

For many years Derek played a leading role in the Association of Market Survey Organisations (AMSO – the organisation representing the larger agencies). There, he proved time and again his skills in chairmanship, negotiating and acute insight all with good humour, tact and modesty.

Though always a supporter of the MRS, he gave most of his time to AMSO until in the late ‘90s when the MRS found itself (not for the first time) in grave financial difficulties. The industry rallied round, and although Derek was not a Council member, he was nominated and elected Chairman unopposed. I served under him as Hon Sec Treasurer and together we pulled the Society back onto the straight and narrow, working to appoint a new executive team in the process. But I am very happy to say that it was mainly due to Derek’s financial, leadership and negotiating skills that we found a way through this crisis.

Later, we worked together on the Fellows Board (under Lorna Hudson’s excellent chairing) and it was a delight to see Derek in action when things became heated over who did and who didn’t deserve to be made a Fellow.

Outside of the industry Derek was a staunch Liberal (then Lib Dem) and served on Elmbridge Borough Council for a number of years, latterly as Chairman of the Housing Committee.

He and Maggie loved Africa and travelled there regularly, quietly supporting MEA (Medicine Education Africa). After retirement, they moved to Herefordshire, having “had enough” of Surrey but kept an apartment in Vauxhall.

Derek never lost his acute political, economic and philosophical sense and the arrangements for our meetings would always be under the subject heading “putting the world to rights”. I shall miss those evenings more than I can say.

He is survived by Maggie and their sons Sebastian (who runs Bryter Research) and Corin.