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British ad group WPP to simplify business after tough 2017

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - WPP, the world's biggest advertising group, said it would simplify its structure after it reported a 0.9 percent drop in 2017 net sales, its worst performance since the financial crisis, and forecast no growth for 2018.

The British company has been hit by a reduction in spending from consumer goods giants like Unilever and increasing competition. Analysts had hoped it would join its peers Omnicom and IPG in sounding more upbeat about 2018.

For 2017, net sales were down 0.9 percent on a like-for-like basis, against a forecast of flat growth. For 2018, it said it was budgeting for both revenue and net sales to be flat, with headline operating margin also flat in constant currency. (Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle)