Havas Group has continued to gain ground from the worst of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but has fallen short of returning to organic growth – unlike its French compatriot Publicis Groupe.
Havas registered an 0.8% decline in annual organic growth in the first quarter of 2021, up strongly from a 7.5% drop in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Q1 2021 net revenues were €478m (£415m), down 5.7%, in large part due to currency effects.
Its European operations returned to organic growth and its US operations registered “satisfactory growth”.
Vivendi, the parent company of Havas, called the creative and media group’s performance “better than expected”, while Havas CEO Yannick Bolloré told staff internally that the group was “experiencing a good momentum”.
New business wins included Volkswagen’s customer experience work in the UK and Keurig Dr Pepper’s media in the US.
In an internal memo to staff seen by Campaign, Bolloré said: "Thanks to your hard work and unfailing commitment throughout this very challenging time, our group continues to show strong resilience.
“Our encouraging results, supported by flourishing new business activity, also show us that all the new offerings and initiatives we decided to launch in the middle of the pandemic – such as Havas CX and Havas Market – are truly game changers.”
Havas’ 0.8% decline compares to Publicis Groupe’s 2.4% increase and Omnicom’s 1.8% decline in Q1. Other agency rivals are yet to report.
Vivendi’s overall Q1 revenues were up 5% to €3.9bn (£3.4bn), driven by strong growth for its Universal Music Group business.
Havas had been under pressure even before the pandemic and its Q1 2021 revenue performance was its best for six quarters, since Q3 2019 when organic revenue was flat.
During the worst of the pandemic in Q2 2020, revenues plunged 18.3% and a return to growth in Q2 2021 looks certain.