Third Quarter Trading Update

28 Oct 2021

Very strong Q3 performance: LFL revenue less pass-through costs +15.7% year-on-year, and +6.9% on 2019; full year guidance raised to +11.5-12.0% LFL

£ million +/(-) % reported1 +/(-) % LFL2
Third Quarter      
Revenue less pass-through costs
Year to date
Revenue less pass-through costs
  • Q3 revenue +9.1%; LFL revenue +14.7%
  • Q3 LFL revenue less pass-through costs +15.7%; +6.9% LFL on Q3 2019
  • Top five markets Q3 LFL revenue less pass-through costs: US +12.4%; UK +16.9%; Germany +34.5%; Greater China +18.0%; Australia +2.4%
  • Top five markets Q3 LFL revenue less pass-through costs on 2019: US +6.2%; UK +9.3%; Germany +32.1%; Greater China -1.7%; Australia -11.2%
  • Continued new business momentum: $1.7 billion won in Q3, $4.6 billion net year-to-date
  • Ongoing strategic progress: merger of Finsbury Glover Hering and SVC, acquisition of Satalia in AI
  • Net debt £1.6 billion, down £1.0 billion year-on-year at 2021 exchange rates: continued good working capital management
  • £448 million share buyback year-to-date: £600 million completed by year end; continuation of buyback up to 2021 preliminary results
  • Full year 2021 guidance raised again: LFL revenue less pass-through costs 11.5-12.0%, headline operating margin slightly above 14%

Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer, WPP:

“Our very strong performance goes well beyond a cyclical recovery, with like-for-like growth over 2019 at 6.9% in the quarter. Clients across all sectors and geographies are making significant investments in marketing, particularly in digital media and ecommerce services. We are now above 2019 levels in all of our business lines, and with the actions we have taken over the last three years, we are even better positioned for growth.

“Our reshaped offer - which combines creativity with technology and data, through Choreograph, with the largest global media platform in GroupM - is proving its value for existing and new clients. This is reflected in the continuation of our longstanding and successful partnership with Unilever, and the growth of our relationship with Bayer. In addition, we are delighted to have won new assignments with Beiersdorf, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s and TD Bank.

“We have also made strategic progress, creating the world’s leading board-level communications firm through the merger of Finsbury Glover Hering and SVC, and acquiring Satalia, a specialist in artificial intelligence. We continue to return excess capital to shareholders, buying back 4% of our shares so far this year. With strong client demand, a clear strategic direction and a strong balance sheet, we are well positioned to continue our momentum into 2022 and beyond.”

WPP 2021 Third Quarter Trading Update press release PDF 308.6 KB


  1. Percentage change in reported sterling.
  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, adjusted to include the results of acquisitions and disposals for the commensurate period in the prior year.


For further information:

Investors and analysts
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Chris Wade, +44 20 7282 4600

Richard Oldworth, +44 7710 130 634
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