LONDON—Public relations holding company Huntsworth, parent company of Citigate, Grayling, Trimedia and several specialist PR brands, has reported a 9.9 percent increase in pretax profit to £24 million ($35 million) on revenues of just over £159 million, 4.5 percent up from last year.
Operating margin before central costs held steady at 21 percent, while operating margins after central costs were up to 16.5 percent. Debt was reduced to £33.5 million—well below expected year end levels—and pretax profit was up 87 percent to £20.1 million.
And chief executive Lord Peter Chadlington says the year had started well for the company’s public relations operations, with 78 percent of projected 2009 revenue already committed. He attributed the strong start to a diverse client base, and continuing demand for consumer communications, with some clients shifting some advertising spending into PR.
On the other hand, financial project work—notably the mergers and acquisitions business at Citigate—was down by about 25 percent, the company saus.
According to Chadlington: “Our well-balanced portfolio of agencies and international profile have helped us in the challenging trading environment in which we find ourselves. The group is in a robust financial position with substantially reduced debt and banking facilities in place until 2012 which will give us the flexibility to take advantage of growth opportunities that may arise in the downturn.
He says that so far “the global recession has affected our businesses broadly as anticipated. Financial projects have fallen but financial retainers remain strong, consumer revenues have been boosted as advertising budgets have been switched to public relations and public affairs, and Huntsworth Health are proving more sensitive to political and drug release cycles than the broader economic cycle.”
He also suggested that there might be some further streamlining of the company’s operating structure, following last year’s merger of the Grayling and Global Consulting Group units. “Over the year we have made progress on simplifying our group structure, merging brands and creating efficiencies whenever possible. Our predominant brands include Trimedia, Red, Grayling, Citigate and Huntsworth Health. However with 26 individual trading brands across the Group we believe there is scope for further co-operation and efficiency and will continue to look for further opportunities to enable our companies to work more closely together as our international network client base grows.”