The world’s leading data, insights and consulting company, Kantar Global Holdings S.àr.l. (Kantar Global Holdings), as reporting entity for the Kantar group, today announces the publication of its report for the three months ended 31 March 2021.
Kantar delivered a strong start to 2021 with Gross Revenue and EBITDA well ahead of its annual plan and prior year. The overall Gross Revenue is now back ahead of Q1 2019.
Gross Revenue increased by $28 million, or 3% from $868 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $896 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021. Six of its seven divisions showed growth versus 2020.
Kantar’s Public division delivered the highest growth of $13 million or 34% driven by the UK’s research around Covid in support of the NHA home testing program. Client demand for behavioural data which experienced growth in 2020 despite the pandemic continued in Q1 2021 as its Worldpanel division grew by $8 million or 11% with strong growth across all regions.
The healthcare industry continued to see increased demand from the pharmaceutical sector which drove a $6 million or 15% increase in Gross Revenue at its Health division with particularly strong growth in the US.
Kantar’s three more custom businesses of Insights, Profiles and Consulting all grew between 0 to 4% in Q1 driven by double-digit growth in its growth platforms of Marketplace, Holistic Brand Guidance (HBG) and Analytics.
Offsetting the growth was a $4 million or 3% decline at its Media division where stable performance in the audience measurement domain was offset with declines in its reputation and advertising domains.
Geographically, Kantar experienced growth in Faster Growing Markets of 6% as all regions grew with the largest impact in the Asia Pacific fueled by growth in China and India. The company’s Mature Markets also grew by 2% driven by strong growth across most of its divisions in the UK.
Direct Costs, which are the cost of delivering its services, increased by $1 million from $303 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $304 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021, which was less than the increase in Gross Revenue.
The biggest increase was at its Public division where direct costs increased by $7 million or 34% in line with the Public’s Revenue increase. That increase was offset across other divisions as we continue to drive more efficiencies and automation via platforms and offers such as Marketplace, Worldpanel+ and HBG. We have also migrated a proportion of surveys from face to face to lower-cost online interviews.
Gross Margin as a percentage of Gross Revenue improved by 1% to 66% in line with the increase in Gross Revenue and Direct Costs noted above. All divisions showed improvement in Gross Margin as a percentage of Gross Revenue.
Overall, Kantar’s Gross Margin increased by $27 million, or 5% from $565 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $592 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021.
Staff Costs decreased by $8 million, or 2% from $399 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $391 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021. This decrease was mainly a result of the restructuring of its cost base in 2020 which delivered $43 million of structural savings, offset by an increase in the accrual for incentive compensation.
General and Administrative Costs
General and Administrative Costs decreased by $9 million, or 10% from $92 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $83 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021.
This decrease was due to a combination of new ways of working requiring less office and travel expenses combined with the impact of ongoing restrictions on facility, office, and international and domestic travel expenses due to COVID-19.
EBITDA increased by $44 million, or 59% from $74 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $118 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021. This increase was primarily due to the increase in Gross Revenue combined with the impact of savings from its long-term transformation plans.
The following table describes the cash and cash equivalents and debt financing as of March 31, 2021, of the Group based on Q1 Consolidated Financial Statements, as adjusted to exclude cash and liabilities of holding companies above the Group entities that are governed by its Senior Facilities Agreement and Notes, and presented on a consolidated basis as of March 31, 2021.
Capital Expenditures increased by $5 million, or 36% from $14 million in the three months ended March 31, 2020, to $19 million in the three months ended March 31, 2021. This increase was due to a $11 million increase in the purchase of other intangible assets.
This increase is primarily due to continued investment in its growth platforms including Holistic Brand Guidance (HBG) and Marketplace in Insights division and big data service Worldpanel+ within the Worldpanel division.
In addition, we continue to upgrade its platforms within Media and Worldpanel divisions. Offsetting the increase in the purchase of other intangible assets was a $6million decrease in purchases of property, plant and equipment as we have scaled back spend in this area primarily as we continue to work remotely in the majority of markets.