PARIS—Revenue at Publicis Groupe—parent of the MS&L, Publicis Consultants and Kekst and Company public relations brands—declined by 3.8 percent last year to €4.52 billion, with a decline in net profit of 9.8 percent to €403 million.
In the final quarter of 2009, revenue declined 5.4 percent, compared to a decrease of 7.4 percent in the previous quarter, and Publicis chairman and chief executive Maurice Levy says he expects the communications industry to rebound in 2010.
While Publicis does not report its public relations revenues separately, fee income at the MS&L Group—created last year when the company brought its various public relations and events business together under one banner—is thought to have declined by about 11.5 percent. The firm lost much of its Philips business early in 2009, and saw a reduction in spending from troubled automaker GM.
According to Levy: “The year was something of a paradox for the Publicis Groupe. While our marketplace experienced a double-digit downturn, we were able to stop the slide and cut it by half, thus actually gaining market share….
“The upheaval in our industry was generated not only by macroeconomic factors; it was also the product of changing dynamics in the communications business. This included the rapid development of digital technologies, the explosion of social networks and other forms of communication, accentuating the shift in the media landscape and accelerating the pace of changes in consumer behavior.
“It would be no exaggeration to say that Publicis has weathered the crisis well, containing its negative impacts on both margin and growth, while, at the same time, taking strategic initiatives to make the most of the recovery…. Our objective is to return to positive organic growth, outperforming the market once again, in 2010. We are continuing to invest in talent and technology and are aiming to maintain our margins prior to embarking in 2011 on a new phase of margin growth."