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Revenue growth in the fourth quarter was the highest in a decade

Our reported revenue growth for the year of over 7% reflected the comparative weakness of sterling against most currencies, other than the euro. On a constant currency basis, which excludes the impact of currency movements, revenues were up over 5%.

On a like-for-like basis, excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency, revenues were up 5.3%, reflecting sequential quarterly improvement throughout the year. Revenue grew by 8.5% in the final quarter, the fastest rate of like-for-like quarterly growth since the fourth quarter of 2000. The month of December saw the first monthly double-digit growth rate since January 2001.

Throughout 2010 we have seen continued sequential improvement in our like-for-like quarterly revenue growth, with the final two quarters of the year at 7.5% and 8.5% respectively. This followed zero like-for-like growth in the first quarter and 4.7% in quarter two. This significant turnaround was directionally in line with our earlier forecasts (we anticipated like-for-like growth in the second quarter of 2010 as early as the third quarter trading update of 2009), but was considerably more violent than anticipated. In 2009, our budgets were optimistic, anticipating like-for-like growth of –2% (an oxymoron). In fact we came in at –8%. In 2010, on the other hand, we proved too pessimistic, budgeting like-for-like growth of zero (another oxymoron) and coming in at over 5%. Let’s hope we have it more correct in 2011 (third time lucky), where we are budgeting revenue growth of 5%.