WPP reported record revenues in 2016 but has warned that global economic and political uncertainty may lead to a slow down in the company’s growth this year.
The world’s biggest advertising group made revenues of £14.4bn in the year ended 31 December 2016, an increase of 12.5 per cent on the previous year at constant currency rates.
Like for like net sales – a key measure for analysts – were up 3.1 per cent, broadly in line with expectations and reflecting a more difficult final quarter of 2016.
The company which is run by Martin Sorrell recorded profit before tax of £1.9bn, up 7.2 per cent in constant currency.
However WPP said it had experienced a “relatively slow” start to 2017 with January like-for-like revenue up 1.5 per cent and net sales up 1.2 per cent, against stronger comparatives. It predicted 2 per cent growth in revenue and net sales this year – slightly lower than analysts’ expectations.
Although WPP’s headlines results were boosted by the fall in the value of sterling since the vote for Brexit last June, the company said the outlook for the UK economy was “mixed” and warned of the threat of further political uncertainty with national elections this year in France and Germany.
“The prospects in the United Kingdom are more mixed as the post-Brexit vote scenarios will play out over the next two years and uncertainties about the possible outcomes increase,” WPP said.
“The four leading Western Continental European economies, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, let alone the Netherlands and Greece, also all face political uncertainty, although Germany and Spain are strengthening economically.”
(This story has been changed to correct the constant-currency revenue increase.)