However, the holding company’s 2009 preliminary results have revealed that the group’s PR and public affairs business saw improved business in the second half, with like-for-like revenues down 6.7 per cent compared with a drop of 8.2 per cent in the first half.
Improvements were seen particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The final quarter showed more improvement still, with PR revenue down less than five per cent, which was the least worst quarterly decline of the year.
‘We have clearly moved from a period of staring into the abyss to less worse and now to stabilisation, if not growth, as yet,’ the company stated.
PR and PA revenue was 9.2 per cent of the total group’s revenue. PR and PA operating margins remained strong, as action was taken to reduce costs as average headcount fell significantly during the year.
The Sir Martin Sorrell-led group stated that market conditions in the sector improved in the final quarter, particularly Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton and the group’s specialist public relations businesses.
By comparison, advertising and media investment management like-for-like revenues were down by 8.5 per cent.
As a group, WPP saw billings go up by 2.7 per cent to £37.9bn. Like-for-like revenue was down by 8.1 per cent overall.
The UK has seen like-for-like revenues drop by six per cent, compared to a drop of 8.1 per cent in the US and 10.2 per cent in Western Continental Europe.