WPP operating boss says no sense in breaking up group

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The joint boss of advertising giant WPP says a full break-up of the group does not make sense.

But Mark Read, who became joint chief operating officer (COO) in the wake of founder Martin Sorrell’s departure, said he would look at restructuring the group built up by Sir Martin.

His comments came as WPP announced better-than-expected quarterly results.

WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group, had been seen as unmanageable by anyone apart from Sir Martin.

Net sales were almost flat, down 0.1% in first-quarter trading. Analysts were relieved as they had expected a fall of 1%.

Investors greeted the release by marking the shares up 9% in morning trading.

Mr Read did not give a time-frame for any possible structural changes to the company.


WPP’s business involves 3,000 offices in 112 countries.

It employs 200,000 people and includes such names as J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, research business Taylor Nelson Sofres and the Young & Rubicam Group.

Mr Read told the Reuters news agency that WPP’s chairman, Roberto Quarta, had asked him and his fellow COO, Andrew Scott, to look at the group’s strategy: “Roberto has asked Andrew and I to look at the strategy and come back as quickly as we can to the board with recommendations.”

Former chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, aged 73, ran WPP for 33 years, becoming the highest paid boss of a FTSE 100 company.

He was the longest-serving chief executive of a FTSE 100 firm by far, as well as the best rewarded. In 2015, he faced an unsuccessful shareholder revolt over a £70m pay package.