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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

WPP revenue up as new man Read takes the helm

CEO signalled he would spend more to revive growth at the world’s biggest advertising group but warned of profit margin squeeze to come

An usher holds a baton at the AGM of WPP in London. The company reported a rise in revenues. Reuters
An usher holds a baton at the AGM of WPP in London. The company reported a rise in revenues. Reuters

WPP reported its first underlying quarterly revenue growth since the start of 2017, smoothing the path for new chief executive Mark Read as he sets out to revive the world’s biggest advertising group.

Like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs, a key measure of WPP’s operating performance, rose 0.7 per cent to £3.2 billion (Dh15.1bn), helped by a better performance in western Europe, WPP said.

“Our review of strategy is underway, addressing our structure, our underperforming operations, particularly in the United States, and how we position the company for the future. We will provide an update by the year end,” said Mr Read, who was confirmed as the successor to company founder Martin Sorrell on Monday.

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Investors are looking for signs that Mr Read can arrest a share slump at WPP, which has come under pressure as consumer goods giants cut their ad spending and as power in online advertising shifts to Google and Facebook.

He also signalled he would spend more to revive growth at the world’s biggest advertising group.

WPP forecast a profit margin squeeze in the full year, in line with a 0.4 percentage point like-for-like decline in the first half to 13.3 per cent.

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