Dunnhumby Ireland, the data analytics company which is owned by Tesco, chalked up a pre-tax profit of €2.1m in the year to February 28th 2014, according to accounts published in the Companies Registration Office.
Dunnhumby’s Irish operations were set up in 2005 to service Tesco’s growing Irish operations at the time. Its most recent set of accounts show that it had a turnover of €8.42m in the year to the end of February 2014 while it employed 35 staff.
Dunnhumby is currently in the process of being sold by Tesco as it is deemed to be non-core to its operations. WPP is understood to be the front-runner to purchase the business which is likely to fetch between £1-£1.5bn. WPP has teamed up with the private equity firm General Atlantic to buy the business from the struggling retailer.
The bid by WPP comes weeks after MediaCom, which is owned by WPP, picked up the media account for Tesco. It is also understood that offers may have been received by a number of other interested parties including private equity firms Warburg Pincus, Permira Advisers and possibly Google.
Dunnhumby was set up in 1989 by Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby, a University of Sheffield trained mathematician. In 2001, Tesco bought as 53% stake in the business for a reputed £30m. This stake was gradually increased to 84% in 2006 and 100% in 2010. WPP’s involvement in the business saw it acquire a number of international businesses along the way, including KSS Retail, a provider of analytics software and services for retail price optimization and promotions planning in Manchester; BzzAgent, a Boston-based social marketing and advocacy start-up in 2011 and the Berlin-based advertising technology firm Sociomantic in 2014.
The company has been credited with the success of the Tesco Clubcard in Ireland and the UK and its data and analytics capabilities have also been used by other companies like Coca Cola and P&G. In Ireland it also works with manufacturers and suppliers to help them understand customer needs and retail trends.
A sale of the business to WPP would undoubtedly enhance the group’s overall data capabilities and strengthen its retail credentials while providing valuable insights into the retail space for other WPP agencies.