Alain de Pouzilhac, chief executive of Paris-headquartered Havas Advertising, the world’s sixth largest agency group, switched from attack to defence mode when unveiling the group’s disappointing first quarter results.

Fresh from his rumbustious verbal assault on WPP Group’s Sir Martin Sorrell [WAMN: 30-Apr--02], de Pouzilhac was more circumspect about Havas’ slippage in global revenues – down to €501 million ($456.94m; £312.10m) for the first three months of 2002, a decrease of 8.1% compared to the same period in 2001.

“The first three months of 2002 are in line with our expectations, despite a tough environment ... While remaining cautious in view of the lack of market visibility, we confirm our objective of a rebound for Havas Advertising in 2002,” said de Pouzilhac. He remained silent as to the probability of meeting this unquantified objective.

Adjusted to account for currency fluctuations and acquisitions, organic growth was down by 5.5% compared to Q1 2001. Billings amounted to €3.343 billion for the quarter.

Havas agencies won €565 million of net new business in the quarter, with media and marketing services gains outstripping traditional advertising business. One non-advertising gain, a CRM project, alone represented 53% of total net wins.

Latin America and Asia Pacific led in organic growth, respectively notching increases of 12.2% and 5.9%. But this was negated by continued weakness in North America which registered a decline of minus 8.2% followed by Europe’s minus 4.7%.

Data sourced from: Havas website; additional content by WARC staff