BusinessCompany NewsMove towards added value

Move towards added value

TNS CEO and former FD David Lowden explains the strategy behind a 9.5% rise in profits and a climb in revenues to £999m

This is your first set of results for TNS as chief executive. What
were your personal highlights?

I think they’re a strong set of results. We’ve seen revenue grow over 4% on an
underlying basis and we’ve actually had good growth across almost all of our
businesses. We’ve seen our custom business growing in most regions. We’ve seen
syndicated services perform particularly well and we’re now almost a £1bn
business.
But we’ve also seen earnings growth and that is really positive. We’ve got
almost 16% growth in terms of our earnings per share and that follows a number
of years of good, strong earnings performance. At the same time, we’ve seen our
debt position come down to below £300m. I think they’re all very positive signs.

Are you concerned that you’re underperforming the peer group?
Not particularly. If you strip out the impact of the US, which is a
market that disappointed, we’ve seen good growth across all of the other
businesses. We’ve outperformed the market in continental Europe, Asia Pacific
and Latin America. So we’re seeing strong growth from the business. We have a
particular issue in the US, we’ve taken the actions there that will redress that
situation and we will return that business to growth. So it’s been an overall
strong performance from TNS.

You’re moving, as you say, towards more value-added information and
insight. What are the planks that underpin that strategy?

When we announced that I would take on responsibility as chief executive at TNS,
I took that as an opportunity to go out and talk to a number of our clients. I
went firstly to see Procter & Gamble, which is one of our largest clients in
Cincinnati, and then saw around 50 clients in total, to get their views as to
how they saw the market changing, what it is they’re looking for from TNS or
from the industry as a whole.

It became evident in those discussions that clients are really looking to
move more of their spending to what we call insight into analysis of their
business issues.

They’re not satisfied just with the collection of information to tell them
where their position is within a given marketplace. They really want to
understand how they can make their business more successful. So the research
departments within the clients want to provide a return on the investments that
they’re making within market research.

But if this research is moving up the value chain towards more
value-added information, where is TNS on that today?

I think the fair answer to that is we’re a mixed bag. In certain of our
businesses, we’re providing good, high-quality insight. We’re very much in the
advisory, in the specialist space. In others, we’re more in the provision of
data and a limited amount of analytics. What I need to do is generally move the
whole of the business towards the upstream position.

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