NPD Group market research firm sold to PE firm

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The outdoor industry has seen mergers and acquisitions accelerate in recent months, as evidenced by an increase in strategic and financial transactions involving brands, retailers and even the media.

Now that list includes another type of business: the consumer research provider. This week, NPD Group, the global company based in Port Washington, NY and specializing in market analysis (including the outdoor industry), announced that it had agreed to be acquired by the equity firm. – Hellman & Friedman investment for an undisclosed amount.

Under the terms of the deal, NPD Executive Chairman Tod Johnson and CEO Karyn Schoenbart will retain a minority stake in the company and continue to serve on NPD’s board of directors.

“As a leading source of market information and advisory services for general merchandise and catering, NPD is committed to helping our customers and the industries we serve achieve data-driven growth for many. years to come, ”Johnson said. “H&F shares our focus on long-term growth and has the resources and expertise to not only continue, but also accelerate NPD’s momentum and its long track record of success. Karyn and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner as minority investors alongside H&F as we work closely together on a long-term strategic plan and over time move to the next generation. of NPD leaders.

Schoenbart added, “In a time of rapid change, NPD has helped guide our clients with omnichannel data, industry expertise and analytics to help them understand unprecedented market changes. It has been exciting to play an increasingly important role in our clients’ strategies by giving them insight into what is happening today and what to look forward to in the future. We expect H&F to continue its tradition of customer partnership and innovation with new products, data sources and next-generation platforms to make our information even more comprehensive, accessible and actionable. “

NPD, with roots dating back to 1966, said it was “the eighth largest market research firm in the world, with operations in the Americas, Europe and APAC, covering more than 20 sectors “.

The company added that its innovations “include the launch of the first point-of-sale tracking services for the general merchandise industries, the development of home scanning technology used by many research companies around the world today, pioneering online surveys, the introduction of revolutionary digital measurement methodology. that powered Media Metrix, and creating the first receipt-based market measurement system.

These credentials were attractive to H&F, the San Francisco-based private equity firm whose portfolio includes companies in industries such as energy, financial services, healthcare, insurance, retail and software. .

“Rapidly changing consumer expectations and the growth of e-commerce are accelerating the pace of change in the retail landscape,” said Blake Kleinman, partner at H&F. “In an environment of the unknown, the ability of businesses to use omnichannel analytics to measure and improve performance is more important than ever, and NPD is uniquely positioned to deliver this critical information to its customers and business partners.

NPD causes controversy in outside industry

NPD publishes all kinds of outdoor sales data, but the longtime company was criticized by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance earlier this year for one of its allegations about specialty retail sales.

In the January 2021 issue of Outdoor retailer magazine, NDP analyst Dirk Sorenson wrote that sales of outdoor specialty retailers declined 32% through October 2020, adding that “outdoor specialty retailers have faced challenges due to closures of shops”.

Grassroots refuted this claim, pointing out that only one member store had closed – due to retirement, no less – and that out of its 73 member stores at the time (a number that has since grown to nearly 100), only two reported their point of view. sales data (POS) to NPD.

OBJ contributor Marc Peruzzi described the dispute in an article earlier this year, which first appeared in OBJ’s Summer Magazine and later online.

“In a letter to Outdoor Retailer and NPD, Grassroots asked for clarification and an apology,” Peruzzi wrote. “The magazine published its claims. A few back and forth between Grassroots and NPD followed, but Grassroots was not happy with NPD’s counter-argument. There’s too much at stake, says Rich Hill, executive director of Grassroots. If a CEO on the sales side thinks the specialty is struggling, Grassroots asks, what happens to the co-marketing dollars or test products designed for specialty stores and their thought leader customer base? When CEOs rely on incomplete or just plain flawed retail data, Hill says, those types of investments are reduced. Indeed, the prophetic story “the specialty is in difficulty” comes true. “


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