Havas remains confident that 2003 will be a positive year for adspend despite a fall in first-quarter revenues.

The French agency giant – parent of Euro RSCG Worldwide among others – posted a decline in revenues of 8.6% (excluding effects of currency fluctuations) to €402 million ($463m; £288m), on billings of €2.7 billion. The organic growth rate, which strips out acquisitions and divestments, stood at –5.8%.

Havas blamed the decline on the “uncertain geopolitical climate”, as many clients halted marketing spend when war broke out in Iraq. As a result, revenues declined most steeply in March – in particular in the US and the UK, the two leading combatants, which together account for around two-thirds of the group’s sales.

Havas now hopes the swift end to the war will provide a boost for the rest of the year.

“We remain cautiously optimistic for the three remaining quarters,” declared chairman/ceo Alain de Pouzilhac. “While we do not see any strong signs of a recovery as yet, we do believe that the trend for communications spend will be positive for the rest of the year 2003.”

Nevertheless, Havas shares the now widespread view that there will be no industry-wide recovery until next year.

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