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Britain’s WPP beats forecasts in first results without…

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) – The world’s biggest advertising group WPP reported better than expected first-quarter net sales and reiterated its full-year guidance in the first set of results to be published without founder Martin Sorrell.

The British group reported like-for-like net sales down 0.1 percent compared with analyst expectations of a drop of around 1 percent due to lower spending from clients such as Unilever and P&G and as tech groups Google and Facebook encroach on its turf.

WPP is looking for a new chief executive after Sorrell stepped down over two weeks ago due to an investigation into personal misconduct.

His departure has sparked speculation that a new leader could sell off assets or restructure the group after it struggled to match the better performances of its peers Omnicom , Publicis and IPG. .

Joint chief operating officers Mark Read and Andrew Scott, running the company in Sorrell’s absence, said they would review the British group’s strategy, focus on growth and address the parts of the business that are struggling.

“We are pleased to announce the group’s first quarter trading update, which is in line with our expectations,” Executive Chairman Roberto Quarta said. “Our guidance for 2018 remains unchanged.

“(Read and Scott) have my and the board’s full backing to review the strategy, to come back to us with recommendations, and to move forward decisively to implement our vision for the group.”

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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