WPP appears to be putting the disaster that was COVID behind it, posting 3.1 per cent revenue growth in the first quarter of 2021.
The results represent a vast improvement on the 6.5 per cent year-on-year decline the last quarter of 2020, which followed falls of 7.6 per cent in the third quarter and 15.1 per cent between April and June during the height of the pandemic.
It means that WPP has been the best of the holding companies when it comes to reporting their Q1 numbers. Publicis was up 2.8 per cent, IPG up 1.9 per cent, Havas down 0.8 per cent, Omnicom was down 1.8 per cent. Dentsu is yet to report.
Highlights of WPP’s numbers included:
- Q1 revenue +1.8%; LFL revenue +6.3%
- Q1 LFL revenue less pass-through costs +3.1%
- Top five markets Q1 LFL revenue less pass-through costs: US +0.7%; UK +3.9%;Germany +2.5%; Greater China +18.4%; India -0.5%
- LFL revenue less pass-through costs by business sector: Global Integrated Agencies+2.8% (GroupM +5.8%), Public Relations +2.0%, Specialist Agencies +7.5%
- $1.3 billion net new business won
- Continued progress against strategic plan: technology/commerce acquisitions, buy-in of WPP AUNZ minority, launch of Choreograph, share buyback ongoing
- 2021 guidance reiterated
WPP CEO Mark Read (main photo) commented: “WPP has had a strong start to the year with a return to growth in all business lines and most major markets. Our strengths in ecommerce, digital media and technology, combined with our ongoing investment in creative talent, are resonating with clients as their markets recover and they seek to transform their offer for future growth. This week’s launch of our new global data company, Choreograph, adds a further dimension to the WPP proposition as clients look for trusted partners to help them navigate a fast-changing data landscape.
“We have already secured a number of important assignments in 2021, including Absolut (global creative), JP Morgan Chase (global media), Salesforce (technology operations) and Sam’s Club (US creative). We were also delighted to renew our valued partnership with the US Navy.
“Last week we made an industry-leading commitment to target net zero carbon emissions across our entire supply chain by 2030, putting our $60 billion of media billings behind this initiative. We will work with our clients, media owners and the industry on this collaborative effort.
“The roll-out of vaccines is improving visibility in many markets, although there is inevitably uncertainty over the pace of recovery. We are making good progress on our transformation programme, which will deliver significant efficiencies to reinvest in growth, and are confident of delivering our growth and profitability guidance for 2021,” Read said.