Havas is to lay off more staff and sell off agencies as it struggles to recover from a dismal first half.

After posting a 41% slump in H1 operating profits [WAMN: 19-Sep-03], the group announced a further 850 redundancies – 5% of its worldwide workforce – on top of the 750 already made under its restructuring scheme.

Fifty of Havas’ 350 units will bear the brunt of the extra layoffs. Mostly marketing services shops in Europe (and in particular the UK), these businesses are said to be “penalising” the group.

As a result, about 66% of the redundancies will be in Europe, 26% in North America and 8% elsewhere. Hardest hit will be back-office staff and employees not involved with clients, while around 200 redundancies will result from agency closures.

Havas plans to rid itself of 20 non-core or lossmaking units, seven of which are currently part of the Arnold Worldwide network. The holding company hopes to generate €50 million ($56.6m; £34.8m) from the asset sale.

The latest cutbacks come as Havas seeks to reorganise its agencies. It is building the Euro RSCG Worldwide network into its chief global player and repositioning Arnold as a collection of smaller creative hotshops active only in key markets [WAMN: 01-Aug-03].

Despite the global layoffs, the group is creating new positions at a senior level. It has appointed a chief communications officer (Alain Cayzac) and a chief information officer (Elio di Pace), while the new roles of chief talent officer and chief innovation officer are yet to be filled.

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