Marcoms trio buoyant after profit rise in 2007

Marcoms groups Chime Communications, Huntsworth and Havas have all reported an outstanding 2007 in their annual figures, with no downturn apparent so far in 2008.

Huntsworth, which owns Citigate Dewe Rogerson, Huntsworth Health and The Red Consultancy, posted a 23 per cent rise in profit before tax. Chief executive Lord Chadlington said he was 'still not convinced' that this trend would change in 2008.

Chime chairman Lord Bell, whose group owns Good Relations, Resonate and Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, said: 'We can only go by what we are seeing this year, and there has been no downturn in PR yet.'

French group Havas, which owns Maitland, Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster, and Euro RSCG Apex Communications, recorded an 11 per cent operating margin, against 8.2 per cent in 2006. The results show that the group's corporate function, under which Biss Lancaster and Maitland would fall, grew 4.4 per cent.

But despite the positive outlook of many of the large groups, some industry watchers believe a sharp downturn is imminent.

'The PR industry is sticking its head in the sand if it thinks the outlook for the UK economy is optimistic,' said Chatsworth Communications founder Nick Murray-Leslie.


Viewpoint - no sign of a downturn in PR

Lord Bell, Chairman, Chime Communications

'We are in an odd situation right now. Everything seems to be fine, even though we are being told it is notThe level of business at the start of this year indicated no sign of downturn - maybe it just hasn't arrived yet.

It is important to remember that this is not a normal economic cycle; something structural has gone wrong to cause the sub-prime crisis, but this does not necessarily mean business is slowing down.

There is a lack of confidence in the marketplace. Share prices are low, meaning acquisitions are unlikely. There's a kind of constipation in our sector in that respect. But anyone who reads share prices as an indication of how well business is doing is a fool. They are a reflection of market sentiment rather than figures. The market has the jitters but PR is actually performing very well.

Obviously, costs need to be controlled at this time in case there is a downturn, because it is perfectly possible that there will be. But, at the moment, it just seems as though only America has pneumonia.'





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