Design and branding group owners WPP Group and Havas both reported improved first quarter trading results last week.
UK-owned WPP reported like-for-like revenues up 2 per cent, excluding acquisitions – such as that of Cordiant Communications Group – and currency fluctuations.
Most significantly, revenues for its branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications businesses recorded the most improved increase, up 19 per cent. By region, revenues in the UK increased by 12 per cent, while those in North America increased by 11 per cent. In continental Europe revenues were up 7 per cent year-on-year.
A spokesman for WPP says the trend for branding and identity businesses in the UK is upward. ‘Marketing services groups look like [they are] recovering somewhat quicker than media advertising ones,’ he says. However, he says branding and identity work did decline in continental Europe during the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Havas reported a ‘return’ to growth in the first quarter of 2004. Its UK revenues, however, which consist largely of advertising billings from agencies such as Euro RSCG Worldwide and WCRS, fell by 4.6 per cent. A Havas spokesman says the group has ‘turned the corner’ in the UK.