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WPP Q1 revenue falls 4%

Guidance for 2018 unchanged; fresh look at strategy with focus on growth

Reported revenue down 4.0% at £3.555 billion, currency headwinds of 6.0% resulting in constant currency revenue up 2.0%, like-for-like revenue up 0.8%

Reported revenue less pass-through costs down 5.1% at £2.948 billion, currency headwinds of 6.1% resulting in constant currency up 1.0%, like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs down 0.1%

Constant currency net debt at 31 March 2018 up £354 million on same date in 2017, with average net debt in first quarter of 2018 up by £357 million over same period in 2017

Share buy-backs of £145 million, representing 11.5 million shares or 0.9% of the issued share capital purchased in first quarter

Net new business of $1.737 billion in billings won in the first quarter

Roberto Quarta, Executive Chairman, WPP:

“We are pleased to announce the Group’s first quarter trading update, which is in line with our expectations. Our guidance for 2018 remains unchanged.

“WPP has high-quality management teams throughout the business, and they continue to deliver for our clients.

“Mark Read and Andrew Scott are providing the stability and leadership WPP requires, but there is no standing still. They 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.”

Mark Read and Andrew Scott, joint Chief Operating Officers, WPP:

“In the last two weeks we have focused on spending time with our clients and people, and the response has been very encouraging. As expected, our people are getting on with business as usual, and our clients have expressed their continued support for and confidence in WPP.

“This should not come as a surprise. As we said to our people across the Group, our companies and client teams are exceptionally good at what they do. They have their own strong leaders, who hold the primary client relationships. Clients have made it very clear that they value their partners within WPP.

“WPP has unrivalled assets and capabilities: the world’s most-awarded creative agencies; the number one media buying and planning business; many of the world’s leading research, data and insight companies; leading positions in fast-growth markets; world-class digital brands; and strong mutual relationships with technology companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce – to name but a few.

“We intend to build on these strengths by taking a fresh look at our strategy, developing a vision for the Group that recognises the challenges and opportunities presented by the structural shifts in our industry, and executing resolutely against it.

“Our priority is to focus on growth. We will proactively address the under-performing parts of our business and we need to ensure that our capital is deployed to those areas that will grow fastest and maximise shareholder value.
“Looking ahead, we will get even closer to our clients, and provide faster, more agile, more integrated solutions with data and technology at their heart – making it simpler to access the wealth of talent, creativity and capabilities we have within WPP.

“Concentrating our efforts on stimulating growth for our clients, and organising the Group to make that possible, is the best way to restore growth for WPP and all its stakeholders.”

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