2023 performance

Chapter 1

Business model: built on four core principles

We are purely digital  
Digital is by far the fastest-growing segment of the advertising and marketing services market. Our purely digital offering means we are swiftly capitalising on the arrival and benefits of AI.

We are data-driven 
Our data-driven approach, which drives the creation of content at scale and enables continuous refinements, coupled with our speed to market and measurement capabilities, mean clients receive more effective and reliable results. And, importantly, data is the fuel that powers AI.

Unique go-to-market strengths 
We go to market as faster, better, more efficient and capitalising on more opportunities through AI. Our focus on digital marketing and technology is a strong value proposition to CSOs, CMOs, CIOs and CTOs who are looking to get the best possible return on their investment.

A single P&L  
Unlike traditional legacy agency holding companies, we have a single P&L, aligned around the Media.Monks brand. This allows us to provide an integrated service to clients, a collaborative culture and broader career paths for our people and a more profitable model for investors.

Worldwide presence

We’re always on. A global communications business for the new marketing age. Integrated, agile and responsive.

  • 7700 People
  • 32 Countries
  • 61 Offices
  • 1 Unitary structure
  • Company locations
  • S4Capital hubs

Financial highlights

  • Billings1



    Like-for-like2 1.4%

  • Pro-forma billings3



  • Revenue



    Like-for-like -7.8%

  • Pro-forma revenue



  • Net revenue



    Like-for-like -4.5%

  • Pro-forma net revenue



  • Operational EBITDA4,8



    Like-for-like -36.6%

  • Pro-forma operational EBITDA8



  • Operational EBITDA margin5



    Like-for-like -550bps

  • Pro-forma operational EBITDA margin



  • Operating profit


    2022 £135.3m loss

  • Adjusted operating profit6



    Like-for-like -40.6%

  • Loss before income tax


    2022 -£159.7m

  • Adjusted result before income tax7



  • Basic loss per share


    2022 -27.2p

  • Adjusted basic earnings per share


    2022 11.4p

  • Market capitalisation at 25 March 2024


  • Share price at 25 March 2024


For full reconciliation from statutory to non-GAAP measures, please refer to the Alternative Performance Measures Appendix on page 200 on the printed Annual Report.


  1. Billings is gross billings to clients including pass-through costs.
  2. Like-for-like relates to 2022 being restated to show the unaudited numbers for the previous year of the existing and acquired businesses consolidated for the same months as in 2023 applying currency rates as used in 2023.
  3. Pro-forma numbers relate to unaudited full-year non-statutory and non-GAAP consolidated results in constant currency as if the S4Capital plc Group (the Group) had existed in full for the year and have been prepared under comparable GAAP with no consolidation eliminations in the pre-acquisition period.
  4. Operational EBITDA is EBITDA adjusted for acquisition-related expenses, non-recurring items (primarily acquisition payments tied to continued employment, amortisation of business combination intangible assets and restructuring and other one-off expenses) and recurring items (share-based payments), and includes right-of-use assets depreciation. It is a non- GAAP measure management uses to assess the underlying business performance.
  5. Operational EBITDA margin is operational EBITDA as a percentage of net revenue.
  6. Adjusted operating profit is operating profit/loss adjusted for non-recurring and recurring items (as defined above).
  7. Adjusted result before income tax is profit/loss before income tax adjusted for non-recurring and recurring items
  8. Operational EBITDA excludes the one-off benefit of £9.3 million due to the significant devaluation of the Argentinian peso in December 2023.

Business summary

2023 was a difficult year with slower market growth and continuing macroeconomic uncertainty.

The first half saw a mixed performance with slower growth and an expected second half seasonal uplift did not materialise amidst continuing client caution and further economic and geopolitical challenges. Overall, we have seen clients very much focused on the short term, particularly in relation to larger transformation projects, which has resulted in longer sales cycles, along with lower regional and local opportunities, and we have found it harder to convert new business opportunities. Our stated ‘whopper’ strategy of building broad-scaled relationships with leading enterprise clients continues to drive our business, with 10 against our target of 20 such relationships. We remain focused on a disciplined approach to costs, headcount and operational cash generation. In the second half of 2023, as expected, there was a cash outflow relating to prior year combination payments, with net debt rising as a result. Due to significant cost reductions and £10 million of merger payments being moved into the following year, we ended with net debt at the lower end of our guided range of £180-220 million. We will maintain a liquid balance sheet and the focus will be on improving operating performance and deploying free cashflow to buybacks and dividends.

Officer and Board changes
Jean-Benoit Berty has been appointed Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Executive Committee with immediate effect. In order to conform with more traditional Board structures, where Board membership is primarily non-executive and to continue to improve governance, Christopher S. Martin, Victor Knaap, Wes ter Haar and Scott Spirit will step down from the Board at the conclusion of the next Annual General Meeting, whilst all retaining their current roles. In addition, Wes ter Haar will become a Board Observer, as an example of our founder management ownership structure and to support input into strategy, such as our focus on AI. The Executive Committee will now add Jean-Benoit Berty to Wes ter Haar, Bruno Lambertini, Christopher S. Martin, Brady Brim-DeForest, Scott Spirit, James Kinney and Caroline Kowall, as well as Sir Martin Sorrell and Mary Basterfield.

Over the medium to longer term we continue to expect our growth to outperform our markets and operational EBITDA margins to return to historic levels of around 20%. The strategy of S4Capital remains the same. The Group’s purely digital transformation model, based on first-party data fuelling the creation, production and distribution of digital advertising content, distributed by digital media and built on technology platforms to ensure success and efficiency, resonates with clients. Our tagline ‘faster, better, cheaper, more’ (to which with the arrival of AI we have added ‘more’) and a unitary structure both appeal strongly, even more so in challenging economic times.

Financial summary

Billings1 were £1.9 billion, down 1.1% on a reported basis and down 1.4% like-for-like2 and pro-forma3 . Controlled billings4 , that is billings we influenced, were approximately £5.0 billion (2022: £5.7 billion).

Revenue was £1,011.5 million, down 5.4% from £1,069.5 million on a reported basis and down 7.8% like-for-like. Net revenue was £873.2 million, down 2.1% reported and down 4.5% like-for-like. 

Reported operational earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (operational EBITDA) was £93.7 million compared to £124.2 million in the prior year, a reported decrease of 24.6% and down 36.6% on a like-for-like basis reflecting the challenging revenue trajectory. We have continued to maintain a disciplined approach to cost management, including headcount and discretionary costs. These controls have resulted in the number of Monks at the end of the year being 7,707, down 13% from around 8,891 at this time last year and down 15% on the June 2022 figure. In December 2023, the Argentinian peso significantly devalued by over 50%. Operational EBITDA excludes this oneoff benefit of £9.3 million, which is included in adjusting items. The outturn was in line with our revised operational EBITDA targets.

Operational EBITDA margin was 10.7%, down 320 basis points versus 13.9% in 2022 and down 550 basis points like-for-like reflecting primarily the lower growth and margins in the Content practice and lower margins in Data&Digital Media and Technology Services. Our ambition remains to return full year margins to historic levels, around 20%, over the longer term.

Adjusted operating profit was down 28.1% on a reported basis to £82.0 million from £114.1 million, before adjusting items of £61.8 million (2022: £249.4 million). The reduction in adjusting items is largely due to lower combination payments tied to continued employment. Adjusting items also includes share-based payments, restructuring costs primarily related to headcount, amortisation of business combination intangible assets and the benefit to our costs of the significant devaluation of the Argentinian peso. The reported operating profit of £20.2 million, was an improvement of £155.5 million on 2022, reflecting a reduction in acquisition expenses. Loss for the year was £6.0 million (2022: £160.5 million). Adjusted basic earnings per share was 5.7p, versus adjusted basic earnings per share of 11.4p in 2022. Basic loss per share was 0.9p (2022: 27.2p).

1. Billings is gross billings to clients including pass-through costs.
2. Like-for-like is a non-GAAP measure and relates to 2021 being restated to show the unaudited numbers for the previous year of the existing and acquired businesses consolidated for the same months as in 2022 applying currency rates as used in 2022. 
3. Pro-forma numbers relate to unaudited full year non-statutory and non-GAAP consolidated results in constant currency as if the Group had existed in full for the year and have been prepared under comparable GAAP with no consolidation eliminations in the pre-acquisition period. 
4. Controlled billings is billings we influenced in addition to billings that flowed through our income statement.

  • Billings £m

  • Revenue £m

  • Net revenue £m

  • Operational EBITDA £m

  • Operational EBITDA margin %

  • Adjusted operating profit £m

  • Operational EBITDA and margin £m/%

Net revenue split by practice

  • Content


  • Data&Digital Media


  • Technology Services


Net revenue split by region

  • The Americas


  • Europe, Middle East & Africa


  • Asia Pacific


ESG: A year of focused development

Globally, there is growing recognition of the impact of environmental, social and governance factors on business models, and increased efforts to steer economic activities towards sustainability.

We have implemented ESG software to progress our data quality and analysis and are focused on activities and streamlining processes and governance that bring us closer to our goal of achieving net zero by 2040. In our journey towards B Corp certification, we are now in the midst of B Lab assessment thanks to our continuing efforts to report on Scopes 1, 2 and 3 of GHG, which resulted in an upgrade of our CDP score from B- to B. In 2023, focus in the technology sector shifted towards artificial intelligence (AI). Based on our years of experience in the AI space, we have 8 led the conversation being named Adweek’s inaugural AI Agency of the Year and pivoting our solutions through innovation to serve changing demand by working in new automated ways.

When it comes to our people, creating agile practices, policies and programmes that both foster and meet the needs of our diverse workforce was of paramount importance in 2023. And we continued to focus on closing the representation gap for talent in our industry by providing training and fellowships.

Our impact

  • Input

    • People

      7,707 Monks
      48% women
      50% men
      2% undeclared

    • Resources

      61 offices
      32 countries
      4,477 MWh electricity used

    • Our relationships

      Business partners

  • Output

    • Offered 94 intern and associate positions
      Rolled out the Diverse Slate approach to hiring
      Launched the Media.Monks Coaching Certification Program
      Accelerate.Monks fosters leadership growth and career advancement through interactive classes

    • 20% emission reduction YoY
      3.3 tCO2e per FTE
      45% of electricity is renewable

    • £1.0 billion revenue
      £64,870 (0.01% of revenue) and 1,449 voluntary hours donated to charities

    • 8,414 projects
      502 projects For Good
      101 Purpose-driven clients

  • Long-term value

    • We empower our people to be a catalyst for change, in an inclusive, diverse and creative workplace

    • We create a climate-neutral and environmentally- conscious business operation

    • We remain economically viable and invest in our innovations to enable us to contribute to sustainability challenges in the long run

    • We improve the sustainable impact of our clients – to bring about the shift in attitudes and behaviour needed to reach the SDGs

Alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • People Fulfilment

    • 5. Gender equality
      5. Gender equality
    • 9. Industry, innovation & infrastructure
      9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
    • 10. Reduced inequalities
      Reduced Inequalities
  • Our Responsibility to the World

    • 12. Responsible consumption & production
      12. Responsible consumption and production
    • 13. Climate action
      13. Climate action