Publicis Groupe posts recovery in Q1 2021 financial results

Publicis Groupe has released its first quarter financial results for 2021, which sees some growth after a challenging year.

Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Group said: “In an environment that remains challenging, Publicis Groupe is returning to positive organic growth. Thanks to the effects of our transformation, we posted a solid +2.8% in Q1, ahead of expectations.”

This is led by strong performances in the US, with positive growth for the second quarter in a row in addition to organic growth in the APAC region.

Net revenue for Q1 2021 is €2.392 billion (AU$3.69 billion), 3.6% down on Q1 2020 which posted €2.481 billion  (AU$3.83 billion) .

Publicis Groupe said the US numbers are the result of a “faster than expected economic recovery in the country, combined with the strength of the Groupe’s model that allowed it to capture the shift in client investment towards digital, ecommerce and direct-to-consumer”.

Net revenue in Europe was down by 2.9% on a reported basis, and 1.8% on an organic basis, however Publicis noted that excluding the French outdoor media activities and the Drugstore, the region was up by 2.8% on an organic basis.

Ongoing government restrictions continued to have an impact on operations in some areas, such as the UK, which had an organic decline of 4.4%.

“In Asia, we reported an acceleration in organic growth of +5.7% for Q1. China returned to growth at +3.0%, as it began to benefit from a strong series of wins over the past 18 months” said Sadoun.

There was an acceleration of growth in the Asia Pacific region, returning to a positive organic growth of +5.7%. China, the first country impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic posted +3.0% of organic growth, “as it began to benefit from a strong series of wins over the past 18 months,” said Sadoun. On top of this, India and Australia both saw “dynamic organic growth” in Q1.

Middle East & Africa declined by 17.3% in net revenue, or -11.0% on an organic basis, remaining impacted by the pandemic and by a particularly high comparison base for Publicis Sapient.

In its outlook for the rest of the year, the Groupe said: “As far as Q2 is concerned, the Groupe expects to recover between 60% to 80% of what it lost in Q2 2020, implying an organic growth between 8% and 10%, assuming no further deterioration in sanitary conditions. The crisis is not over yet, and a limited visibility continues to prevent the Groupe from giving a full year revenue guidance for 2021. As announced at the Full Year 2020 results, the Groupe will update further in July at its half year 2021 results, when the visibility on the economic and sanitary situation will have improved.”

The Groupe also confirmed that its operating margin rate will improve by up to 50 basis points in 2021, consolidating further the achievement of 2020.

Sadoun added: “For the rest of the year, we will continue to focus on our main priorities: putting our people first by safeguarding their health and wellbeing; staying close to our clients, who are under pressure to reinvent their business model; and accelerating on our product roadmap, which is advancing well, as demonstrated by our recent partnership with The Trade Desk.”


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