Business

Advertising giant WPP annual profits hit record

Martin Sorrell Image copyright Getty Images

Advertising giant WPP has reported record annual profits despite what it called "strong currency headwinds".

It reported a 12% rise in 2014 pre-tax profit to £1.45bn, on revenues that rose 4.6% to £11.5bn.

The giant group owns a host of agencies around the world, including JWT and Ogilvy & Mather, and employs some 175,000 people in 111 countries.

WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell told the BBC there was some evidence things were picking up in the eurozone.

However, he said most global economic growth would continue to come from the US and China.

"We are seeing a little bit of an improvement [in the eurozone] we saw a stronger Q4 and as we go into the first few months of this year January was stronger for the eurozone as well. So there are grounds for a little bit more optimism," Sir Martin said.

Election

But he warned the upcoming election contained risks to economic growth, whichever party wins the poll. He described the choice facing voters as a "Morton's Fork" - a specious piece of reasoning in which contradictory arguments lead to the same (unpleasant) conclusion.

"It's a difficult choice either way. If you vote Conservative, you are faced with a referendum over the EU, either in 2017 or 2016. If you vote Labour, Labour seem to have a platform of criticising or bashing business so you worry on that count too," Sir Martin said.

On the subject of the UK's membership of the European Union, he said: "The issue is whether you can get any change [in Europe] before 2016 or 2017. I think the prime minister has drawn the potential date for a referendum forward to 2016, which would be better news. Less uncertainty as a result.

"But the key issue is our position in Europe ,that's where the patterns of trade [are] whether we like it or not. They are not with the Brazils and Russia and Indias and Chinas. They are more with Germany and France and Italy and Spain.

"But reform it from within, best to be inside the tent rather than outside the tent," he added.

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