Sir Tim Bell, quondam favourite adman of Baroness Thatcher, struck an unusually high note amid the gloom of the advertising market with the posting of a 31% increase in first-half profits at his Chime Communications group.

Chime, the holding company for hotshot ad agency HHCL & Partners and PR practitioner Bell Pottinger, reported pre-tax profit at £8.4 million ($12m) on an operating income of £50.9m.

Chairman Bell predicted that the group would meet market expectations for the full year with a combination of cost-cutting and rival-zapping: “It will continue to be gloomy in the second half, so we'll have to get there by increasing our [market] share.”

He did not share rivals’ view that the PR sector would decline in concert with the economy. “The press does not stop writing in bad times,” he said.

Of plans announced earlier this year to expand in Germany and the US, Bell reported: “We've started the process in Germany, but we've delayed the American adventures until next year because of the marketplace.”

Additionally, the barriers to raising funds in the current world climate were daunting. “The capital markets are virtually closed to us,” he said.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)