Profits up after Saatchi flotation

Advertising agency M&C Saatchi was celebrating a successful first year on the stock market today after signing new contracts with Halfords and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Advertising agency M&C Saatchi was celebrating a successful first year on the stock market today after signing new contracts with Halfords and Royal Bank of Scotland.

The company, which floated last July, said a string of new business wins in the UK had given it a boost as it posted an 8.5% rise in pre-tax profits to £8.1m (€11.8m) in the year to December 31.

A strong performance by its Asia Pacific division was the main driver behind the increase, while the group’s American business returned to profit during the year.

M&C Saatchi was set up by Tory co-chairman Lord Maurice Saatchi and his brother Charles in 1995 after a dispute with shareholders of Saatchi & Saatchi, the advertising firm the two brothers created in 1970. It previously had a contract with car firm Rover.

The agency sounded an upbeat note about the new financial year. Chief executive David Kershaw said: “We continue to see good opportunities for organic growth and further international expansion and are encouraged by the new business performance in the current year.”

A strong portfolio of new business wins in the UK helped offset decisions by Rover and retailer Matalan to take work in-house in mid-2003.

During the year, contracts were signed with companies including Privilege Insurance, which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group, and Halfords. Since the start of the year, M&C Saatchi has also won new business with clients including broadcaster ITV, Mini, Twinings and Ribena.

M&C Saatchi said it would now start looking for opportunities to expand its current network of 10 offices in the region.

It also said it had a good platform to grow its presence in America and that it had made “encouraging” progress in target European markets, particularly in France and Spain.

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