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WPP eyes recovery with marginal growth

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by Kay Mitchell

The world’s largest advertising group WPP, has today reported an increase in like-for-like revenues of 1% in March – its first since December 2008.

The advertising giant is now raising its key like-for-like full-year revenue forecast to 2% growth.

Its French rival, Publicis Groupe, exceeded expectations for its first-quarter sales last week, when it posted organic growth of 3.1%.

Meanwhile, WPP was hit severely hard by the economic downturn and, as a result, reduced its headcount by 4% last year.

It described 2009 as a “brutal year” but is showing signs of recovery and is recruiting again.

Sir Martin Sorrell, the group’s CEO, said: “I don’t know that 1% qualifies for putting us in the growth club, we are now forecasting 2% [like-for-like] revenue growth for the year.

“We haven’t put our neck out there having been too optimistic last year [WPP predicted revenues to fall 2% and they fell 8%]. We are probably being a little too pessimistic this year. It is a case of once bitten, twice shy,” he added.

WPP, which has a workforce of around 100,000, recently said it expects 2010 to be a more stable year as major events that will contribute to growth this year include the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the Asian games in Guangzhou, China and the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

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News posted: April 30, 2010

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