They’ve been described in the past as the brains behind the Clubcard – a description Dunn rather likes! “Retailers are companies I admire very much. They work very hard and it’s really tough out there,” she says. “We’ve had a fantastic partnership with Tesco. I think we’ve both learnt a lot.”
The supermarket has a majority stake in the company, buying a whack of shares from the founders in 2006. Dunn and Humby still own some of the firm and Dunn notes: “It still feels like our business, which is very important. We stay involved because we believe it will grow.”
Today, Dunnhumby employs more than 1,000 people in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Turnover for the UK business is in excess of £150m. It’s a far cry from the company’s humble beginnings. “We started with no money, no clients, no office. It was a real work-from-the-back-bedroom-with-nothing venture,” Dunn recalls. “Trying to devise a business plan and work out how to build a team and get investment was tough.”
The initial concern was that big companies wouldn’t want to take a chance on a start-up but Dunnhumby’s first client was BMW. Other big names followed and blue-chip clients now include Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.
Dunn isn’t too scared by the recession: “The idea when we set up in a time of another recession was, and still is, about helping companies improve. It’s a concept and model that works very well when money is tight.”