Mark REad
Mark Read

WPP reported a 12.3 percent decline in first-half revenues to $7.4B as CEO Mark Read wrestled with the negative impact of COVID-19.

The company suffered a $3.4B pre-tax loss, which included a $3.6B impairment charge largely connected to the 2000 acquisition of Y&R.

Consumer packaged goods, technology and pharmaceutical clients, which account for 56 percent of revenues, were either less impacted or slightly enhanced by COVID-19.

Auto, luxury, travel and leisure accounts (22 percent of revenues) were the hardest hit.

WPP’s BCW, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Finsbury and Ogilvy PR group “held up relatively well,” as clients sought advice on how to engage with their stakeholders, according to Reed.

PR revenues declined 8.1 percent to $298M, though it “outperformed” in North America, but was "down significantly" in the UK.

Assuming there’s no second wave of COVID, Read expects the second quarter will turn out to “to be the toughest period of the year.”

He remains cautious about the speed of the recovery.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of WPP staffers in China are back in their offices. That's followed by Germany (17 percent), UK (three percent) and US (one percent).