Lamenting the “deepest advertising recession in living memory,” Aegis Group – owner of the Carat media network – posted a 19.3% drop in pre-tax profits (before exceptional items) to £63.3 million ($89.3m; €102.1m) last year.

In spite of the fall in profits, turnover surged 6.7% to £6.1 billion, while net new business totalled £1.2bn. However, Aegis suffered particularly badly from the economic chaos in Argentina, which accounted for £10m of the group’s £18.6m exceptional costs.

Chief executive Doug Flynn emphasised the positive: “Despite [the slump], Aegis’ revenues grew nearly 12% [to £529m] against a market contraction of approximately 5%, albeit at a lower operating margin than the prior year.”

Aegis continued its global acquisition programme in 2001, paying £29m for stakes in fifteen media buying and market research firms. Such expenditure followed £26.9m of purchases in 2000.

As for the future, no upturn in the ad sector is in sight. “We fully expect the current difficult trading conditions to persist for much of 2002,” continued Flynn. “But the group should nevertheless feel the benefits of the actions we have taken in 2001.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff