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28 Apr 2021 | 08:00

WPP reports strong start to 2021

(Sharecast News) - WPP said it made a strong start to 2021 as all its business lines returned to growth and business activity began to pick up from the Covid-19 crisis.

The world's biggest advertising company reported a 1.8% increase in revenue to £2.9bn in the three months to the end of March from a year earlier. Like-for-like income rose 6.3%.

Revenue excluding pass-through costs fell 1.4% to £2.3bn and rose 3.1% on a like-for-like basis. Income rose in all of WPP's top five markets except India. China had the strongest growth of 18.4% followed by the UK where revenue rose 3.9%.

Revenue less pass-through costs rose in all business divisions and WPP won $1.3bn of net new business in the first quarter including for Absolut vodka and JP Morgan. The FTSE 100 group restated full-year guidance for organic revenue growth in the mid-single digits and a headline operating margin of 13.5-14%.

Mark Read, WPP's chief executive, said: "WPP has had a strong start to the year with a return to growth in all business lines and most major markets. Our strengths in ecommerce, digital media and technology, combined with our ongoing investment in creative talent, are resonating with clients as their markets recover and they seek to transform their offer for future growth."

Read is revamping WPP to meet client requirements as advertising shifts to digital channels from traditional media such as television. WPP's revenue plunged in the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis as customers cut spending to conserve cash.

WPP shares rose 2.6% to 976p at 08:20 BST.

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