The PR and PA arm of WPP, headed by Sir Martin Sorrell, accounts for just under 12 per cent of its business, and is the only marketing area to record an income decline in the first six months of the year. Specialist comms, which includes healthcare PR, recorded growth of 0.1 per cent in revenue.
The group - which owns Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR Worldwide, Cohn & Wolfe, Finsbury and Buchanan Communications - played down the effect of its PR slump and insisted the better than expected performance played a role in improved margins across the group.
A spokesman said the sector had recorded 'better than expected' revenues and implemented tight cost controls, conceding that PR firms had contributed to a nine per cent group-wide reduction in headcount.
The WPP spokesman said the group's PR interests had been the first to be hit by the downturn, and reliance on tech and telecoms clients had resulted in its agencies being badly hit.
WPP UK revenue grew 3.9 per cent while profits dropped marginally to £39.1m.