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GfK sees record growth for 2004 with sales rising 12.7%

LONDON - Global research firm GfK Group has announced record preliminary results for 2004 with sales up 12.7% to €671m (£465m), beating its own forecast.

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GfK's five business divisions all reported substantial growth. Retail and technology was the top sector with overall growth of 12.2% and organic growth accounting for 11.2%, largely attributed to the launch of a global web-based information system.

Healthcare research boosted sales by 38.2% and media research saw organic growth of 7.1%, fighting back from a loss of 3.8% last year. Two big contracts aided the figures: BBC TV and radio assessment and a Belgian radio ratings contract. Custom research grew by an impressive 14.2%, although only 4.6% was organic.

Consumer tracking benefited from 5.3% organic growth but currency effects reduced growth by 0.2 percentage points to 5.2%.

GfK's remaining groups outside of these sectors -- GfK group services and GfK Data Services and GfK Business Solutions and Processing -- recorded a drop in sales, expected to be around 31%.

Germany was the best performing region with 6.3% organic growth, accounting for just over a third of all sales at €235.6m.

Western and Southern Europe saw good organic growth, up 5.4% from 2003, while Northern Europe slowed to 2.7%, largely due to the UK healthcare and custom research underperforming.

GfK is forecasting sales of €710m for the current financial year, with January sales already invoiced at 36% of the forecast for the year.

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