WPP growth returns to pre-COVID levels ahead of forecast

wpp office

Global ads and media giant WPP has reported a stronger than forecast set of second quarter results taking its first half tally back to pre-pandemic levels.

Like-for-like revenue in Q2 came in 19.3% higher bringing half year growth to 11%, a record for the company.

Among its global territories the UK came tops recording a 31% increase in growth in the second quarter.

India came next at 30%, Germany at 20.3% and the US at 12.6%.

The FTSE100 listed company’s CEO, Mark Read, said: “I’m delighted with our performance in the first six months of the year, at a time when COVID continues to take a toll on many countries. 

WPP also upgraded its revenue guidance for the full year to 9-10%. 

WPP record revenue growth

“The like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth rate of 19.3% in the second quarter is our highest on record, as clients reinvest in marketing, particularly in digital media, ecommerce and marketing technology. “We have returned to 2019 levels in 2021, a year ahead of our plan, with good momentum into 2022.

“We’ve also made very good strategic progress. Our recognition as the most awarded company at the 2021 Cannes Lions Festival reflects our investment in creative talent and the strength of our creative work over the past two years. 

“Our focus on data, commerce and technology, through strategic acquisitions, organic investments and the launch of Choreograph, has supported a strong new business performance. Key assignment wins include AstraZeneca, Bumble, JP Morgan Chase and Pernod Ricard.

“In procurement, property and shared services, we are making strong progress as part of our overall transformation programme.

“We have significantly increased our incentive pools in the first half, to reflect the tremendous contribution of our people in these challenging times, and in line with our intention to reinvest in talent announced at our Capital Markets Day in December 2020.

“We expect our strategy to translate into benefits for all of our stakeholders: a powerful, modern offer to support our clients’ growth; a great place for our people to work; a positive contribution to communities and the environment; and good financial returns for shareholders, with the interim dividend raised 25% and £600 million of share buybacks planned in 2021.”

The advertising industry was hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak at the start of 2020, when the world effectively went into lockdown and companies all but shuttered their ad spending.

WPP’s shares were trading 1.2% higher at £9.52 on Thursday morning.