Thursday 17 December 2020 12:44 pm

Ads giant WPP turns to tech to restore growth after accounting error

WPP, the world’s biggest advertising company, set out its plans to restore revenue growth to pre-pandemic levels by 2022, a year ahead of expectations.

The company, which owns agencies such as Ogilvy, Grey and GroupM, saw net sales fall by 8.4 per cent this year as lockdowns hit many of their clients.

The firm has been beset by controversy and this week also admitted in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that it had made a £300m accounting error, meaning the record £2.6bn loss it posted in half-year results was in fact £2.9bn.

WPP plan to accelerate growth on the back of e-commerce and digital marketing trends. It aims to increase business in this area from 25 per cent of revenue today to 40 per cent by 2025.

Mark Read, chief executive officer of WPP, said: “The events of 2020 have only accelerated the structural changes in our industry, from the expansion of digital channels to growing demand for e-commerce solutions.”

The London-based advertising company has set out a goal of an annual growth rate of 3 – 4 per cent from 2023.

The company has been rebuilding over the last two years after the tumultuous departure of long-term chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell.

In the past two years, it has won $5.6 billion of contracts with high-profile companies such as Alibaba, HSBC, Intel, Uber and Unilever.

WPP also plans to resume its Kantar share buyback programme and to increase dividend payouts to around 40 percent of earnings per share.