GfK Takes Majority Stake in Martin Hamblin

The GfK Group has signed a contract to acquire a 51% stake in British researcher the Martin Hamblin Group, a move thought to represent a major step in the German company’s plan towards increasing its importance in the UK. GfK expects to increase its shareholding to 100% within the next six years.

The Martin Hamblin Group itself is ranked as the UK’s eleventh largest market research company, and the largest to be privately owned. It currently has 126 employees, and generated turnover of almost Euros 28 million in 2000. It specialises in ad-hoc research and is also one of the UK’s leading providers of health research information services.

In addition to its offices in the UK, Martin Hamblin has a subsidiary in the US, and two thirds of its business is generated by non GB clients. Klaus L. Wübbenhorst, GfK’s chief executive officer, has explained, "The acquisition of the Martin Hamblin Group represents a major step forward for GfK. Britain is the leading country in Europe as far as market research is concerned, and we have never had the profile there that we have had in most other European countries."

In practical terms, this latest development means that GfK Great Britain will officially merge with the Martin Hamblin Group. GfK has two other British subsidiaries: GfK Marketing Services UK (part of its Non-Food Tracking division) and a minority stake in Romtec-GfK. It recently signed a declaration of intent to take over 100% of the latter company. The total performance of all GfK’s British companies and subsidiaries amounted to around Euros 54 million in 2000, giving GfK seventh place in the table of the market research groups.

Derek Martin, chairman and co-owner of Martin Hamblin, has commented "We are delighted to be joining a research group with such a long history as a research supplier, and one which enjoys such global reach and dynamic growth. Our own business is increasingly global, and becoming part of the GfK group will enable us to grow more strongly on the international scene, so that we can provide an increased range of quality services for our clients in the UK, the USA, and internationally".