Lack of Publicis UK CEO to blame for revenue decline, says Maurice Lévy

Maurice Lévy: the chief executive of Publicis Groupe
Maurice Lévy: the chief executive of Publicis Groupe

Publicis Groupe has blamed the lack of a UK group chief executive at Publicis Worldwide for causing "bumps in the road" and revenue decline at its UK business during the first three months of this year.

The owner of Saatchi & Saatchi and Starcom MediaVest Group’s organic revenue declined by 4.2 per cent in the UK in the first three months of 2015, despite overall revenues climbing 0.9 per cent on an organic basis.

Speaking after the publication of its first quarter results, Maurice Lévy, the chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, told Campaign he expected a return to growth in the UK later this year.

Lévy pointed to the lack of a UK chief executive "for close to two years now" and also said the decline of Blackberry, a major client, has damaged the UK operation’s revenue.

He said: "We had a CEO who was ill then who left and the CEO we hired isn’t in his job. This has created some bumps in the road.

"The other aspect has been that all the handling of the account for Blackberry is out of the UK. This has lost revenue roughly 50 per cent of its revenue. This is coming to an end and a better base of comparison will be in Q3. This will be end of story. We expect Q2 and Q3 to be more progress in the UK.

"I have full confidence in the new management and feel good about the current situation."

Nigel Jones, the former UK chairman and chief executive of Publicis Worldwide, left in September 2013.

Guy Wieynk joined as Jones’ successor in February this year, after being on gardening leave for 12 months.

Wieynk, previously the AKQA vice-president, international, took up a newly created role at Publicis Groupe as chief executive of UK and Nordics.

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