WPP has lifted its full-year sales outlook as newly appointed boss Mark Read unveiled the advertising giant’s first quarter of like-for-like revenue growth for more than a year.
Just a day after confirming Mr Read as new chief executive to succeed Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP said like-for-like sales grew by 2.4% in the three months to June 30 - its first quarterly growth since the start of 2017.
WPP now expects growth in full-year net sales to come in at a similar level to the first half, compared with its previous prediction of no growth.
Mr Read said he will update on his new plans for the group by the end of the year, with a strategy review under way to combat under-performing areas of the business.
Mr Read said: “The second quarter of 2018 was WPP’s first quarter of like-for-like growth since first quarter of 2017, and the company has performed strongly in terms of winning and retaining business over the period.”
He added: “As chief executive, my focus will be on invigorating our company and returning the business to stronger, sustainable growth.
“Our review of strategy is under way, addressing our structure, our under-performing operations, particularly in the United States, and how we position the company for the future.
“We will provide an update by the year-end.”
Despite the more cheery sales news, WPP reported a 7.4% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £735 million for the first half of the year, down 2.5% with currency effects stripped out.
On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits lifted 8.6% to £846 million, but this was thanks to one-off gains largely from the sale of its investment in Buenos Aires-based software business Globant.
Like-for-like revenues overall in the first half lifted 1.6% and the group said trading in July saw comparable sales rise 2.1%.