Monday 19 August 2019

Ad group WPP hit by client losses in US

WPP is in the middle of an overhaul after several profit warnings in 2017 and 2018
WPP is in the middle of an overhaul after several profit warnings in 2017 and 2018

Kate Holton

The world's biggest advertising firm WPP suffered a sharp drop in first-quarter underlying sales in North America as the loss of work from clients like Ford took a toll on its most important market.

WPP, led by company veteran Mark Read following last year's departure of founder Martin Sorrell, said its US performance was disappointing but in line with expectations.

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Its shares, which fell by more than 50pc between a peak in March 2017 and the end of 2018 before stabilising this year, rose 3pc in mid-morning trading after it reiterated its full-year forecasts.

WPP, the owner of agencies including JWT and Ogilvy, is in the middle of an overhaul after several profit warnings in 2017 and 2018 and the turmoil linked to Mr Sorrell's abrupt departure over a complaint of misconduct, which he denied.

With technology transforming the industry, clients want WPP to better integrate its agencies so it can produce faster offerings across multiple platforms, more cheaply.

Mr Read has said it has failed to invest enough recently in the US, where it was also hit by big account losses. US sales fell by 4.2pc in 2018 and 8.5pc in the first quarter of 2019.

Reuters

Irish Independent

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