New Delhi: India emerged as one of the fastest growing markets, growing at over 12% for WPP Plc, the world’s largest advertising and communication firm, in the first half of 2019. Brazil was the company’s second fastest growing market, registering a growth rate of over 10%.

During the first half, the top 20 countries accounted for 87% of WPP’s revenue less pass-through costs. The UK-based company returned to growth after a better second quarter. While the trends improved in second quarter, the US remained in decline.

The reported billings of WPP were down 0.5% at £26.533 billion, and down 2% in constant currency. The estimated net new business billings of $2.934 billion were won in the first half of the year. The reported revenue was up 1.6% at £7.616 billion.

“WPP’s performance in the second quarter was slightly ahead of our internal expectations but in line with our full-year guidance and three-year strategic targets. Clients are responding well to our new offer, as evidenced by recent wins and expanded assignments, including from eBay, Instagram and L’Oréal. An encouraging number of our businesses and markets are achieving good growth. That said, we are still in the early stages of our three-year turnaround plan, and we remain focused on returning the company to sustainable growth over that period. Our guidance for the full year is unchanged,” said Mark Read, chief executive, WPP.

In the first half of 2019, WPP’s top 30 clients accounted for 27% of its revenue less pass-through costs. The company said it has witnessed strong growth from clients in the technology sector, a varied performance in consumer packaged goods, with some improvements, and some weakness in healthcare. Globally. the group won new assignments from Ferring, Merck, Pfizer, Walgreens and Walmart in the second quarter.

WPP said its media agency GroupM achieved good growth as a result of new account wins and continued spending by existing clients, but those WPP companies with the greatest exposure to US creative continued to decline. The mergers to form two new integrated networks in VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson are making good progress, enabling the delivery of a true end-to-end offer to their clients and repositioning the combined companies to succeed in the long term.

“We continue to simplify WPP, with a more integrated offer for our clients, better, more collaborative working environments for our people, and less complicated management structures. When the Kantar transaction is complete, our disposal programme will have generated proceeds of £3.6billion, allowing us to return significant amounts to shareholders and reduce our leverage to the low end of the target range,” added Read.

Over the past 15 months, the Group has disposed of more than 44 associate companies, with a total value of £3.6 billion, including the sale of 60% of market research group Kantar to Bain Capital in July.

WPP said it exceeded its target of 100 office mergers, with 102 completed or in progress. About 68 offices have been closed or are in the process of closing against a target of 80, and approximately 3,100 of the 3,500 planned redundancies have been implemented. The anticipated gross savings remain in line with the £160 million estimate in December 2018.


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