WPP reports slight revenue increase despite taking hit in PR and public affairs

Australia’s biggest marketing group WPP AUNZ has reported flat revenues of $869.9m in its 2017 financial results, despite taking a hit to its PR and public affairs arm.

Although the company saw a slight increase in overall revenue it fell by 7.2% in its public relations and public affairs arm, which includes agencies such as Ogilvy, Cannings Purple, Hill + Knowlton Strategies, PPR and Pulse Communications.

The division had a net revenue of $62.4m in 2016 which fell to $57.9m last year. The update – published on the ASX this morning – attributed the decline to “soft market conditions” and “individual company underperformance”.

Connaghan: Warning of soft market conditions

WPP AUNZ also reported a 7.4% year-on-year net revenue loss for its data investment management arm, which includes research agency Kantar. The data and research arm saw net revenue of $99.5m, which was down from $107.4m the year before.

However, the company’s media and advertising segment which includes agencies GroupM, AKQA, 1 Kent Street, Howorth, Ikon and whiteGrey, reported a strong net revenue growth, up 5.2% to $485.8m.

“Advertising and media investment management are leading the pack, growing their market position with robust new business wins. Our digital business continues to perform strongly, with good new client momentum,”  CEO of WPP AUNZ, Michael Connaghan, said in a media release.

The company decreased its bank debt last year taking it down from $353.6m to $338.8m, which also reduced its interest payments.

WPP AUNZ is nearing on being a $5 billion company with a cash flow from operating activities of $4.807 billion. The majority of this comes through managing client media investment.

Last year, Connaghan saw a total remuneration equal to $1.079m, while executive director John Steedman – who leads the company’s media operations – received $934,117.

Connaghan added: “Our business has been resilient in soft market conditions with headline numbers coming in above our revised guidance in October 2017.

“We are focused on strengthening the fundamentals of our business, investing in our people and culture, delivering more for our clients, and improving returns to shareholders in the long term.”

He said WPP will be focusing on future growth in production, data, marketing and people and culture in the coming year.

“This year we will roll-out an equity staff incentive scheme aimed at retaining the best people in the market.”


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