NEWS6 July 2009

TNS UK Custom asks staff to take unpaid leave

UK

UK— TNS Custom is asking its UK employees to take two weeks’ unpaid leave before the end of the year in order to stave off the threat of redundancies.

In a statement, UK chief executive Andrew Czarnowski said cuts were already likely and that “a small number” of employees had been notified that their roles were “at risk”.

“Employees are being asked to take two weeks’ unpaid leave between now and December 2009 to reduce potential for further redundancies,” said Czarnowski. “The actions we are taking are balanced so that we can address our short term-business pressures and retain our talent to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position to respond to recovery from the recession.”

TNS Custom is in the process of merging globally with sister company Research International, following the former’s £1bn acquisition by WPP last year.

The takeover helped WPP deliver reported growth of 36% in the first quarter, though organically revenue for the group was down 6% in the period.

At the time, WPP said market research was marginally more affected by the economic conditions than advertising, but that it had fared better than branding, healthcare and specialist communications.

Kantar – the holding company for WPP’s research assets – saw like-for-like revenue declines in North America and Continental Europe while the UK, Latin America and Africa experienced growth.

First-half results are due out next month but WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has already warned in an interview that business was worse in April and May than it was in the first quarter.

In the first four months of the year, headcount across the group was reduced by almost 4,300, or 3.7%, with over half leaving voluntarily.

WPP has said it will cut staff numbers in line with like-for-like revenue declines – and with revenue expected to be down 6% for the year more redundancies seem likely.

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