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New client wins help WPP to improved second-quarter trading

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New client wins help WPP to improved second-quarter trading
FILE PHOTO: Branding signage is seen for WPP Group, the largest global advertising and public relations agency at their offices in London, Britain, July 17, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville   -   Copyright  TOBY MELVILLE(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) – WPP <WPP.L> reported a better-than-expected organic sales performance in the second quarter as its new strategy under boss Mark Read helped the world’s biggest advertising group to win new business and retain clients.

The British company said on Friday organic growth less pass-through costs, its key sales measurement, dropped by 1.4% in the second quarter, an improvement on the first three months of down 2.8% and against a consensus of down 3%.

That gave a first-half figure of down 2%, enabling it to reiterate its full-year guidance for a drop of between 1.5% and 2%. Read said the better client demand gave him confidence that the company was once again on the right track.

“Clients are responding well to our new offer, as evidenced by recent wins and expanded assignments including from eBay, Instagram and L’Oréal,” Read said.

WPP is in the middle of a three-year overhaul launched by Read after a loss of key clients led to several profit warnings in 2018, the same year founder Martin Sorrell quit over a complaint of misconduct, which he denied.

Read has sought to better integrate a company that was built by acquisitions, merging certain agencies such as JWT with its digital outfit Wunderman to give clients a more simpler offering.

A reiteration of the full-year outlook was seen as vital if the stock is to continue on its steady recovery. While the shares fell almost 60% between a peak in March 2017 to March 2019, they are up 12% since then.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by James Davey)

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