Mark Read
Mark Read

WPP CEO Mark Read reports like-for-like revenues dropped 3.3 percent during Q1 and 7.9 percent in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world.

Greater China led the revenue rout as the region declined 21.3 percent during the period and 29.9 percent in March.

Read noted that offices in China are now operating at 90 percent occupancy and a rapid recovery in economic activity is anticipated.

COVID-19 rocked WPP's automotive, travel & leisure, and luxury & premium sectors, which generate about a quarter of spending by the Top 200 clients.

That downturn was partially offset by the "relatively well" performance of the technology, healthcare, pharma and consumer packaged goods practices that account for 54 percent of spending.

Reed said the immediate future is highly uncertain, though he does see some positive signs.

"We have started to prepare for the reopening of our offices as and when governments begin to lift lockdowns—at substantially lower capacity and with enhanced safety measures in line with official guidance.

"Clients are also looking ahead. Visibility of a return to normal remains low, but a number of clients are seeking our advice and support on how they should market their brands in the recovery phase."

WPP PR group led by Hill+Knowlton Strategies, BCW, Ogilvy and Finsbury charted a 1.4 percent decline in LFL revenues to $262M during the quarter.