“The first half-year was heavily impacted by exchange rates which had an adverse effect on revenue of 148 million euro. At constant exchange rate, revenue would have increased by close to 5% during the period.
As we predicted last fall, growth stalled in the second quarter. However, it should be underscored that weakness was stronger than expected mostly due to the cancellation or postponement of campaigns and lagging economies in Europe and in emerging countries. Our organic growth was +1.8% for the first half-year. Our margin remained strong, though fractionally down, as a result of accounting treatments and lagging growth.
These figures are not satisfactory by our standards. They are not consistent with what our operations can achieve. As can be seen from our digital growth (+8.8%) or the numerous awards from various juries (Gunn Report, Gartner and an impressive haul of awards at the Cannes International Festival), our strategy is spot-on and our networks are at the cutting edge of the industry. For the second part of the year, we can confirm that we are already on track for higher growth, and this should be evident as of the third quarter.
Given the situation in Europe and the slow pick-up in the emerging economies, we prefer to be extremely cautious on growth prospects and prioritize cost control in order to achieve a margin closer to our goal for the full year. Although 2014 will be a difficult year, it does not undermine our mid-term prospects. Our business plan between now and 2018, as announced on April 23, 2013, is currently being revised to factor in market developments and the investments required to reach our transformation goals ahead of schedule. The strong feedback from our entities leaves us very confident about achieving all our goals.”