Organic Growth Drops at Publicis

NEW YORK Publicis Groupe on Tuesday said first-quarter organic revenue declined 1.2 percent. However the holding company reported a 57 percent jump in total revenue over the year-ago period, reflecting the consolidation of the former Bcom3 Group, which Publicis acquired at the end of September.

Like other industry multinationals with exposure in the U.S., Publicis was also hit by the negative currency impact of the euro’s appreciation against the U.S. dollar and U.K. pound sterling.

Publicis said business in the U.S. stood “firm” in the first quarter although there was some evidence of advertisers holding back spending because of the conflict in Iraq. On the other hand, certain markets in Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, as well as Brazil, remained soft.

“The first quarter featured the best organic growth since the fourth quarter of 2001,” Maurice Levy, Publicis chairman, CEO, said in a statement. “Especially encouraging is that Publicis is scoring exceptional new business successes; during the first quarter of this year, we won nearly one billion euros of new accounts, which should assure the performance we expect in the second half of the year and make up for possible continued weakness in the European markets and for possible consequences of the SARS epidemic in China.”

Levy also said the company saw “encouraging signs” of a business uptick in the first quarter, including “some positive signs” in the US which began in the fourth quarter and “very encouraging growth” in the Asia Pacific region.