Healthcare is bright spot for Havas as Q2 organic revenue dives 18%

Dependence on Europe meant it suffered more than some rivals, agency group insists.

Havas: London ad agency works on Durex account
Havas: London ad agency works on Durex account

Havas saw organic revenue slump 18.3% in the second quarter as it said it was “significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The ad agency group, which is owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi, said its high dependence on Europe meant it suffered more than some of its competitors, which have greater exposure to North America.

Interpublic previously reported a 9.9% drop in global revenue in the second quarter and Publicis Groupe a 13% decline. Omnicom’s organic revenue plunged 23%, but included some third-party costs, rather than a net figure.

Havas said “all divisions”, including creative and media, “felt the impact, except for Havas Health & You, which continues to report positive performance, thanks to the gains in market share achieved last year".

North America delivered a “satisfactory performance” as revenue fell 8%, due to “a resilient market and growth in health communications”. 

Europe was “severely affected” as revenue slumped 23%, although agencies in the UK and Germany did relatively better.

Asia-Pacific and Latin America also recorded “sharp declines”.

The performance by region was “more or less in line” with its rivals, according to Hervé Philippe, chief financial officer at Vivendi.

Havas implemented a “cost-reduction plan” across both the creative and media divisions because of Covid-19 and that saved €58m (£52m) by the end of June.

Profits before exceptional items dropped to €46m from €108m across the first half of the year, with organic revenue down 11.2% to €1.02bn.

The cost savings meant Havas was able to “absorb” nearly half of the decline in revenue, the company said.

Philippe was “cautious” about the second half of 2020 but said there were positives.

Healthcare was 27% of revenue in the first half, up from 19% last year, North America is now nearly as big as Europe in terms of turnover and the company should see a benefit from the cost savings in the second half of the year.

Havas is the smallest of the big six global agency groups, behind WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic and Dentsu. Havas works with brands including Carling, Durex, Lloyds Banking Group and Telefónica.

Vivendi reported its second-quarter results on 30 July.