WPP warns on 2009 as revenue falls

WPP has warned of a ‘very difficult’ first half of 2009 as it reported a like-for-like revenue fall of 5.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

The results back up WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell’s statement to Design Week last month that the only significant issue facing the design industry in the next two years would be ‘recession, recession, recession’.

The group says its branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications division, which includes consultancies such as Landor, Fitch, The Brand Union and Lambie-Nairn, was ‘most affected’ in revenue terms.

This sector saw a 14.8 per cent drop in reported revenue growth in US dollars in the three months ending 31 March 2009.

A WPP statement says the number of people in the group was down 2 per cent in March 2009 compared to March 2008, and adds that, ‘The short-term focus will continue to be on balancing the likely fall in revenues against staff costs and headcount.’

The statement adds, ‘The first half of 2009 will clearly be very difficult, with the second half, although continuing to be tough, likely to improve relatively.

‘Any recovery, of sorts, will probably come in 2010.’

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