Havas reported organic growth of 7.1% and a revenue increase of 20.6% to $525 million for the first quarter of 2015. The strongest regions were North America, with revenue up 10.2% to $199 million, and Asia Pacific and Africa, where revenue grew by 10.1% to $40 million. Within that region, revenue in China was up 17%.
Havas Life, Havas Wordwide Chicago, Arnold and Havas Media -- which won Safelite and Sleepy's in the first quarter -- were the main contributors to North American growth.
Speaking on a conference call with analysts, Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Havas, said, "Our performance has been particularly strong in the U.S. and Asia Pacific. North America strongly accelerated – all our businesses there are doing well, but Arnold is the strongest shift, from declining to star performer with double-digit growth."
Mr. Bolloré added, "Quarter two is booming in the U.S., where we still see clients hyper-investing and confident about the strength of the economy."
Europe's organic growth rate was 4.4%, with revenue of $250 million. The U.K. grew 6.7%, and other European countries 6.2%, but the group's home market of France posted growth of just 1.1%.
Mr. Bolloré said, "We are seeing the best [European] growth in the U.K. and we are investing a lot in this country, with new European headquarters, and we've hired a rock star from a competitor. This country is key to us but there is still big room for improvement." Chris Hirst, former CEO of Grey London, will join Havas as CEO of Havas Creative Group for U.K. and Europe in September.
Organic growth in Latin America was 5.4%, with revenue up 11.3% to $35 million. Mr. Bolloré continued, "The macro-economic situation is strained, particularly in Mexico and Brazil, but some strong new business has allowed us to post this robust performance."
Mr. Bolloré predicted that Havas would outperform expected market growth of 3.5% this year, although he admitted, "It's early in the year and we don't know which cards our competitors are holding – we don't want to over-promise but we remain cautiously optimistic."
François Laroze, financial director of Havas, said on the call with analysts, "We start all our pitches with digital, but classic media are still quite strong. The paradox is that we spend more time discussing digital media and spend more money on traditional media."
Havas Media Group today announced the formation of a separate Greater China cluster, and recruited Christophe Cases, formerly managing director of Accenture in Greater China, to be its CEO.