London-headquartered Chime Communications, the marketing services group headed by Lord Tim Bell, the PR guru who masterminded the image of the UK’s Conservative Party for much of Margaret Thatcher's political reign in the eighties, saw its share price fall 16.5% to £1.085 ($1.59; €1.70) on Friday.

The plunge follows a stark revenue forecast for the first half of 2002, predicted to be 10% down on H2 2001. However, the group reiterated its earlier forecast that this year’s second half will be rosier with the rider that recovery could be slower than originally expected.

Chime plans to continue with its cost-reduction programme which is expected to achieve £4 million in annualised cost savings. “We are not at this stage anticipating any exceptional costs in the second half of 2002, unless a further decline in market conditions makes it necessary,” it stated.

Chime is the UK’s leading PR business by turnover numbering among its portfolio such brands as Bell Pottinger Communications, Good Relations and the Quentin Bell Organisation. It is also the parent of ad agencies Roose & Partners and former hotshop HHCL which has suffered severe client alopecia over the past twelve months.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff