NEWS27 February 2020

WPP reports Q4 sales slowdown

Financials News UK

UK – WPP’s organic sales dropped 1.6% in 2019, with sales slowing down in the fourth quarter of the year, according to the company’s preliminary results. 

Mark Read

Reported revenue for the full year was up 1.4% to £13.2bn, up 0.2% on a constant currency basis and flat on a like-for-like basis.

The company’s revenue less pass-through costs was £10.8bn, down 1.5% in constant currency and down 1.6% like-for-like.

Reported billings were down 0.3% at £53.1bn, down 1.4% in constant currency and down 1% like-for-like.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company’s like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs was down 1.9%, dropping from the +0.5% increase seen in the third quarter.

WPP is beginning the second year of a three-year turnaround plan. Chief executive Mark Read (pictured) said 2019 was a “foundational year for the new WPP strategy”.

The results exclude Kantar, after WPP sold 60% of the market research business to Bain Capital. WPP said the sale, part of its wider disposal programme, had helped it to reduce debt ‘significantly’.

Full-year organic sales were down across the group’s three business areas: global integrated agencies fell by 0.7%, public relations businesses dropped 1% and the group’s specialist agencies down 5.6%.

Read said: “We said that we would make progress in the journey to return WPP to growth, simplifying our business and reducing our debt, and we have delivered against each of these goals – having met our guidance for 2019, achieved our restructuring targets and completed the sale of a majority stake in Kantar. The second half of 2019 was stronger than the first, with performance improving globally and in the United States, our largest market.”

He added: “We are confident of further progress against our 2021 targets.”