Next generation set to lead Survey Marketing Services

A family-run market research company established nearly three decades ago is being handed over to the next generation

Nicholas Maxwell and Lesley Wright with the SMS team
Nicholas Maxwell and Lesley Wright with the SMS team

Joy Maxwell and Judith Scrivener established Survey Marketing Services Ltd in Newcastle in 1985 when both were in their mid-40s, building the business up to the point where it employs more than 20 full staff and has a turnover of around £2m.

Both are retiring and handing over the reins to their children, with Joy’s son Nicholas taking over as director with responsibility for finance and strategy and Judith’s daughter, Lesley Wright, as director with responsibility for client relations.

“We’re delighted to be taking over the reins at such a key stage in the development of the company,” said Lesley, 47, who has been working with the company for some time.

“We pride ourselves with keeping abreast of the latest research methodologies and have ambitious plans for growth.

“We hope to be increasing the workforce in the near future.”

Survey Marketing Services was born with a £10 initial investment for stationery and little by way of high profile work. Within a short time, however, the company had secured a contract with Newcastle City Council and, after about a year, was working with the likes of Procter & Gamble, doing product testing.

“It really helped a lot that we could show we were trusted by the world’s largest FMCG manufacturer, providing accurate answers about products destined for the market,” said Nicholas, 37, who has been with Survey Marketing Services since he was still at school.

Since then, the company has branched out into traffic data collection – which at one point accounted for about 40% of its work – and research within the public sector and third sector, as well as testing national and international products for some of the world’s largest blue chip companies.

Survey Market Services also has a viewing facility in Reading and uses the services of more than 1000 flexible country-wide workers .

It typically has around 25 to 30 clients at any one time – its list having included the NFL, Newcastle United, Sage Gateshead and Greggs – but Nicholas said he aimed to add a further 30 or so within 12 months, while raising turnover by around 15%.

“I feel excited about the new role,” he added.

“I’m anticipating the challenge and looking forward to be able to direct it in the direction I want it to go, turning it into a more proactive business that is keeping abreast of the times.

“Market research has changed dramatically since the company was launched – particularly because of the internet – and one thing I’ve learned from my mother is to be adaptable.

“You also have to be willing to take the hard stuff as well as the easy along the way.”

We’re delighted to be taking over the reins at such a key stage in the development of the company


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
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