Chime concedes record loss after a 'very poor year'

Chime Communications chairman Lord Bell revealed the full extent of the group's financial woes this week as full-year results show a loss of £40m - compared to a £5.7m profit in 2001.

The marketing services group blamed the tough trading climate for the results to December last year, which also saw PR operating income slump to £28.5m from £35.2m in 2001, with margins dropping 6.6 per cent to 12.8 per cent.

Lord Bell said Chime had experienced 'a very poor year' and that, even though he felt the market had now 'bottomed out', he thought there was little sign of a recovery this year.

'Clearly the oil price has a significant effect on all the economies in the world, and could be instrumental in what happens,' Bell told PRWeek.

Chime's profits were hit especially hard last year by a £36m goodwill write-off, attributed largely to the sale of its stake in HHCL & Partners to WPP last year for £3.5m - a fraction of the original price.

A number of past PR acquisitions are also believed to have contributed to the loss.

Leader, p8.

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