WPP Group warns of ‘tough’ year despite revenue rise

WPP Group, the world’s second-largest marketing services group, has reported a 3% rise in like-for-like revenue to £1.72bn for the third quarter of the year and has warned that 2009 will be a “very tough” year.

The group, which includes the JWT, Mediacom and Y&R networks, has also reported a 4% rise in like-for-like revenue for the first nine months of the year, but growth has slowed over the third quarter in the UK and US reflecting the crisis in the financial markets.

WPP says there was “some softening” in the UK market with growth of 2.9% compared with 4.6% in the first half of the year. North America was the weakest region with revenues flat compared with 6% in the first half of the year. Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East bucked the trend showing 16.5% growth over the three month period. Meanwhile, growth of 7.2% across continental Europe has been attributed to “counter cyclical strengthening” and it also saw growth of 16.3% in Central and Eastern Europe.

The group says that growth has been more balanced across with advertising, media, public relations and public affairs showing the strongest growth with a 7% increase in revenue. Branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications were also up by 4.4%, while information, insight and consultancy was up 4%.

WPP says that there is “no doubt” that the acceleration of the banking crisis over recent weeks as had and will continue to have a negative effect on consumer and corporate confidence. He says: “As a result, 2009 will be a very tough year.”

The results come in the same week that Publicis Groupe, Aegis and Interpublic Group all warned that they are facing a tough time ahead

On October 29, WPP’s offer for research group Taylor Nelson Sofres became “unconditional”. It will become part of WPP’s Kantar division.

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