First Quarter Trading Update

28 Apr 2021

Strong start to the year. Return to like-for-like growth in all business segments and most major markets. 2021 guidance reiterated.

  £ million
+/(-)% reported1 +/(-)% LFL2
First Quarter      
Revenue 2,897
Revenue less pass-through costs
2,334 (1.4)
  • Q1 revenue +1.8%; LFL revenue +6.3%
  • Q1 LFL revenue less pass-through costs +3.1%
  • Top five markets Q1 LFL revenue less pass-through costs: US +0.7%; UK +3.9%; Germany +2.5%; Greater China +18.4%; India -0.5%
  • LFL revenue less pass-through costs by business sector: Global Integrated Agencies +2.8% (GroupM +5.8%), Public Relations +2.0%, Specialist Agencies +7.5%
  • $1.3 billion net new business won
  • Continued progress against strategic plan: technology/commerce acquisitions, buy-in of WPP AUNZ minority, launch of Choreograph, share buyback ongoing
  • 2021 guidance reiterated

Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer of WPP, said:

“WPP has had a strong start to the year with a return to growth in all business lines and most major markets. Our strengths in ecommerce, digital media and technology, combined with our ongoing investment in creative talent, are resonating with clients as their markets recover and they seek to transform their offer for future growth. This week’s launch of our new global data company, Choreograph, adds a further dimension to the WPP proposition as clients look for trusted partners to help them navigate a fast-changing data landscape.

“We have already secured a number of important assignments in 2021, including Absolut (global creative), JP Morgan Chase (global media), Salesforce (technology operations) and Sam’s Club (US creative). We were also delighted to renew our valued partnership with the US Navy.

“Last week we made an industry-leading commitment to target net zero carbon emissions across our entire supply chain by 2030, putting our $60 billion of media billings behind this initiative. We will work with our clients, media owners and the industry on this collaborative effort.

“The roll-out of vaccines is improving visibility in many markets, although there is inevitably uncertainty over the pace of recovery. We are making good progress on our transformation programme, which will deliver significant efficiencies to reinvest in growth, and are confident of delivering our growth and profitability guidance for 2021.”

First Quarter Trading Update 2021 press release PDF 236.7 KB


  1. Percentage change in reported sterling vs prior year from continuing operations.
  2. Like-for-like. LFL comparisons are calculated as follows: current year, constant currency actual results (which include acquisitions from the relevant date of completion) are compared with prior year, constant currency actual results from continuing operations, adjusted to include the results of acquisitions and disposals for the commensurate period in the prior year.


For further information:

Investors and analysts
Peregrine Riviere +44 7909 907193
Caitlin Holt +44 7392 280178
Fran Butera (US) +1 914 484 1198

Chris Wade +44 20 7282 4600

Richard Oldworth, +44 7710 130634
Buchanan Communications +44 20 7466 5000