Polling and research firm YouGov today reported its first profits fall in eight years as the firm felt the brunt of recession.
The company – well-known for its political polling – saw underlying pre-tax profits slide 59% to £3.9m (€4.2m) in the year to July 31.
The firm said the results suffered due to extra staff taken on the previous year in anticipation of new business which failed to emerge following the slump.
“In simple terms we let our cost base get ahead of our income,” chairman Roger Parry said.
YouGov – which introduced new products such as Recession Tracker and Debt Tracker to monitor how consumers are coping with the downturn – shed nearly 10% of its staff during the period, while underlying revenues fell by 3%.
YouGov expects the current challenging climate to persist as clients keep a tight rein on spending and competition increases in the sector.
But the firm’s cost-cutting drive should save it around £2.5m (€2.7m) a year. It is also confident of growing market share with the launch of a new technology platform allowing it to carry out global research across all markets more easily.
YouGov’s leading products include BrandIndex – which tracks consumer perceptions of more than 1,100 brands – and its Omnibus daily survey of 2,000 people allowing clients to take snapshots of attitudes and opinions.
The group also enhanced its reputation for political polling last year by accurately predicting Barack Obama’s US election win with 52% of the public vote.
In the UK, the firm’s major clients this year included supermarket Asda, Costa Coffee and News International, which owns newspapers including The Sun and The Times.
But revenues were down 12% because of much lower sales from providing data to investment fund managers due to the financial crisis.
Shares in YouGov rose 2% today as analysts said the results showed signs of stabilisation after a major profit warning in February.
Panmure Gordon’s Alex DeGroote said: “It is encouraging that full-year results are basically in line, at least at the profits level.”