NEWS31 October 2019

Obituary: John Goodyear

News People UK

UK – MBL founder John Goodyear died on the 10th October in Guernsey, after a long illness.

John Goodyear_crop

John’s many friends, both in the research industry and outside, will no doubt picture him sitting opposite them at a table in a good restaurant, with a glass of red in his hand, engaged in repartee, wit, and conversation. But sadly no more, as John died on 10th October after a long illness. He died in Guernsey where he and his wife Mary have lived for the past 15 years.

John was a leading light in the market research industry from the 1960s through to the turn of the century. He was an entrepreneur from the start, setting up Market Behaviour Ltd (MBL) with Mary in 1965.

MBL rapidly became the leading qualitative business in the UK and began to work in many overseas countries at a time when this was far from normal.

John and Mary sold the business to JWT – which already owned BMRB – in the 80s and John became chairman of the combined businesses. John had the vision to forecast the growing strength of South East Asian economies, and wanted to expand there, but was unable to persuade his corporate masters of this. So, in the late 80s, showing his risk-taking spirit again, he bought MBL back, and began to develop the MBL Group Plc in the UK, South East Asia, India and the Middle East.

By 1997, with the company operating in 19 markets, John sold MBL Group to NFO, which was looking to expand globally from its US base. Shortly after that John and Mary left the research industry and re-located to Guernsey.

But this wasn’t the end of his business interests. Over the next 10 years he invested among other things in property, a wine business in Australia, and a health screening company, not all of which were successful, but they certainly kept him busy!

But John wasn’t just a commercial businessman. He was a larger than life character with a wide social network and interests in many fields. He was a major collector of Victorian watercolours; he loved opera and was on the committee of the ENO; he was chairman of the Arts Club in Dover Street; at one time he was an investor in a Covent Garden restaurant, Les Amis du Vin; and he supported a very talented goldsmith. 

John was larger than life and will be missed by many people in the research industry and elsewhere. If I may conclude with a personal memory, it would be he and I in a restaurant, agreeing the budget for the coming year for the company I ran for him, after the first bottle of red wine but before the first course was finished. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!

As part of a series of oral histories of market research you can hear an intimate interview with John Goodyear recorded in 2015 which charts his career from being manager-owner of one small company in 1965, to becoming the Chairman and Chief Executive of The MBL Group, which totalled 28 offices across 19 countries.


1 Comment

3 years ago

My heart is breaking

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