Business Media & Marketing

Sunday 20 October 2019

Ad firm WPP still reeling from client losses

WPP is grappling with several big-name account losses
WPP is grappling with several big-name account losses
Independent.ie Business Desk

Advertising giant WPP has reported a fall in like-for-like sales in the first quarter as it continues to feel the pain of big client losses.

Comparable sales at the group fell 2.8pc in the period, with total revenue up just 0.9pc to £3.58bn.

The group is grappling with several big-name account losses, such as assignments from car giant Ford, which have dragged on its performance.

The pain was felt hardest in the US, where comparable sales dropped 8.5pc and was WPP's weakest region. In the UK, like-for-like sales dipped 0.9pc.

Chief executive Mark Read said: "We continue to make good progress in implementing our three-year strategy to return WPP to sustainable growth.

"As anticipated, our first-quarter trading update reflects the impact of certain significant client losses in 2018, in particular in the United States.

"Although we face a challenging year, especially in the first half, I am encouraged by how well our people, agencies and clients are responding to our new strategic direction. Our expectations for the full year are unchanged. Our newly formed agencies are showing initial signs of success in new business pitches."

WPP, which was rocked by the sudden departure last year of founder and chief executive Martin Sorrell, is now in the middle of a turnaround.

It is in the process of axing 3,500 jobs worldwide under plans to slash costs by £275m a year as it looks to turn around its fortunes.

It also wants to shed under-performing parts of the business and make itself leaner.

In October, shares in WPP collapsed when the firm trimmed full-year guidance, reported lower-than-expected third-quarter sales and confirmed that it wants to offload Kantar.

WPP said on Friday that the sale process is "progressing well", with interest in the business expressed from "high-quality potential partners".

Shares rose 1.2pc in morning trade to 917.2p.

PA Media

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