Market research consultancies SPA and Future Thinking, formerly known as The Oxford Research Agency (TORA), announced today that their businesses have merged.
The newly formed agency will boast a £13m+ turnover and an international network of offices in London, Paris, New York and Oxford. It will rank as one of the UK’s top market research agencies with a headcount of over 100.
As part of the integration process, a single company brand will be developed with a new management board made up of SPA and Future Thinking personnel. The new combined entity will be run by Jon Priest as Group CEO.
The merger makes the most of SPA and Future Thinking’s complementary areas of expertise. For example, for FMCG clients – Future Thinking specialises in pre-launch research (e.g. new product development and simulated test market research and forecasting), while SPA specialises in post launch research (e.g. brand and advertising tracking, sponsorship research and broader qualitative brand/category studies). There are also opportunities for dual skills to be utilised in customer satisfaction studies and the media industry.
The deal has been funded by growth capital private equity investor Next Wave Partners, which already has a 60 per cent holding in Future Thinking. Each agency will have a 20 per cent shareholding in the combined business, with the rest held by Next Wave Partners. SPA was advised on the transaction by Green Square Partners.
Jon Priest explains: “SPA and Future Thinking have highly complementary offerings. By coming together we have the opportunity to create a true market research powerhouse, providing clients with a broader range of services and superb career opportunities for our people both in the UK and overseas. Chris Sinclair, CEO of Future Thinking, will be leaving to pursue new interests and the group wishes him well in the future. The rest of the senior management team at SPA and Future Thinking remain in place to help drive the new entity forward. ”
Jonathan Brod, partner at Next Wave Partners, adds: “Next Wave is delighted to be increasing our investment in the market research industry through the purchase of SPA and its merger with our existing portfolio company, Future Thinking, previously known as The Oxford Research Agency (TORA).
“Future Thinking and SPA are highly complementary businesses. Both are exceptionally well regarded with unparalleled client rosters in their respective sectors of FMCG, media and customer experience. We look forward to sharing best practice between both companies and working with the team to grow their combined presence in their vibrant, global markets.
“The merged group will benefit from a substantial market presence in the UK and have greater resources to provide exceptional levels of client service internationally.”
SPA is one of the larger full service independent market research companies in the UK offering qualitative and quantitative research in the UK and internationally. It employs circa 50 people and is based in London.
Since its inception in 1994, SPA has developed genuine expertise in a range of industry sectors. From its original roots in media and kids’ research, the company has added shopper/retail, fmcg, women’s interest, emerging media and technology, online audiences, magazine publishing, broadcast sponsorship, leisure and lifestyle. More broadly, SPA is a true expert in audiences, the way they think and feel.
SPA works with household names including BSkyB, T-Mobile, BBC, New Look, McDonalds, Dixons Stores Group and The Bodyshop. Each year it produces the high profile EIAA (European Interactive Advertising Association) Mediascope Survey which examines online and offline media consumption and behaviour.
For more information please visit www.spa-mr.com
About Future Thinking (formerly The Oxford Research Agency)
Future Thinking became the new name for The Oxford Research Agency (TORA) in July 2010. Future Thinking is a specialist FMCG and customer experience market research company with offices in the UK, USA and France.
Future Thinking uses innovative quantitative and qualitative methodologies to help companies to launch successful new products into the marketplace. Future Thinking is one of the few market research firms able to support clients through the entire product development process, from concept screening, through to packaging design, and pricing to the accurate prediction of the product’s marketplace success, and to be able to do this across the world.
Future Thinking tests thousands of new ideas for its clients every year, helping them to launch award winning products that have success rates four times the industry average. Future Thinking’s customer experience division helps some of the UK’s largest companies understand the factors driving customer satisfaction and how these can be used to improve repeat business.