Ad firm WPP still reeling from client losses

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Ad firm WPP still reeling from client losses

The pain was felt hardest in the US.


The group is grappling with several big-name account losses (WPP/PA)
The group is grappling with several big-name account losses (WPP/PA)

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 2.8% in the period, with total revenue up just 0.9% to £3.58 billion.

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 8.5% and was WPP’s weakest region. In the UK, like-for-like sales dipped 0.9%.

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.

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Mark Read (WPP/PA)

“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 Sir 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 £275 million 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.

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

Shares rose 1.2% in morning trade to 917.2p.

Press Association

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