NEWS17 February 2010

Optimisa readies for launch of unified research brand


UK— Optimisa is looking to put its recent woes behind it and is ready to go to market with a re-engineered research offer, uniting its three previously separate MR agencies – Quaestor, Buckingham Research and Andrew Irving Associates – under a common brand.

The integration and rebranding of the agencies as Optimisa Research has been led by Michelle Norman, the former CEO of Synovate UK, whose arrival at the firm in October followed – in the words of chairman Ron Littleboy – “a difficult 12 months”.

The decision was taken at the height of the group’s troubles to delist Optimisa from the AIM stock exchange, so recent results are not publicly available, but in 2008 the group made a £4.5m loss. As a result it had to cut jobs and sell off its overseas businesses.

Norman had been out of the research game for almost a year when the Optimisa Research job came into view. Speaking to Research today, she said she was enticed by the prospect of leading a turnaround – something she says she hadn’t tried her hand at before – though much of what was to be done at Optimisa in terms of integration was familiar. At Synovate, she oversaw the merger of Sample Surveys, Pegram Walters and TRBI.

Beyond bringing the Optimisa research businesses together, Norman says she has introduced a new structure to the way clients are managed. Gone are the old sector-based teams in favour of a more fluid setup that sees researchers aligned around key clients, with relationships managed by account leaders.

Norman says it is important for the business to be “more agile and more focused” on individual clients so as not to let customers “fall off cliffs”. She says the company has had “quite a strong internal focus for quite a while”. Now, she says, “the focus is external”.

At just a little over 100 days into the role, Norman says it is too soon to declare the strategy she has implemented a success. Already, though, she says she sees a “behaviour change” among staff, while both the new and repeat business pipeline looks “very good”.

“We have invested in things like account management training and staff away days,” she says. “These are big investments and we wouldn’t be making them if we didn’t believe that growth was there.”



14 years ago

Good for you, Michelle, and good luck!

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14 years ago

I can see this being a success, all the best.

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