PARIS: Havas, the French marketing services group, recorded an 8% decline in revenues last year, but reported that overall trading conditions are beginning to improve.

Over the course of 2009, the company saw total sales fall by 8.1%, to €1.44 billion ($1.98bn; £1.26bn) on an unadjusted basis, which modified to a 7.2% decrease in organic terms.

Like-for-like figures contracted by 8.4% in Q1, 9.8% in Q2 and 9.3% in Q3, but the rate of the slowdown moderated to 4.4% in Q4, when revenues stood at €415m.

Europe delivered a drop of 8.6% on a comparable basis, to €828m, with France off by 1.9%, the UK by 14.3%, and the rest of the region by 9.0%.

North America saw a slide of 7.5%, to €458m, as did Asia Pacific, by 14.2%, to €63m, while Latin America registered an uptick of 1.1%, to €93m.

In almost all of these areas, the market climate became less adverse in the closing three months of 2009, Havas said, although the situation in the UK remains particularly challenging.

"The UK market is still suffering from the effects of the crisis," the company argued in a statement.

"Our agencies' performances are being penalized by the steep reduction in advertising spending in the UK."

Havas won new billings worth €1.27bn in the last 12 months, including integrated briefs from Hyundai Kia, the automaker, and Reckitt Benckiser, the household goods specialist.

Digital also continued to increase its share of revenues, growing from 9% in 2006 to more than 16% in 2009, with the expectation of reaching double figures in 2010.

EuroRSCG has recently taken on global digital duties for IBM, as well as US responsibilities for Heineken, while Havas Media is now working with Tata in India and Lan Chile in Latin America.

David Jones, ceo of Euro RSCG, stated last year that "clients are getting back into focusing more on the future, rather than battening down the hatches."

Data sourced from Havas; additional content by Warc staff