LONDON — WPP’s PR agencies have been hit by “cautious spending trends” by clients in Q3 – continuing a trend from the second quarter of this year – with like-for-like revenue in the holding company’s PR division down by 0.9% to £283 million.

In its third quarter trading statement, WPP cut its growth forecasts, saying its top-line performance was below expectations, as Hill+Knowlton Strategies and BCW both saw like-for-like declines.

While FGS Global “continued to grow well”, WPP said all three agencies had been “impacted by client caution in the face of macroeconomic uncertainty, primarily in the USA”. In Q2, PR division revenue – which also includes agencies such as Buchanan, Clarion and AxiCom – grew by 2.2%.

Across the marketing services group, only WPP’s global integrated agencies division saw revenue growth – but only by 0.1% – while the specialist agencies division fell by 6.8%. Overall, like-for-like revenue in the third quarter fell by 0.6%to £3.5 billion.

In the UK, revenue across the group was up by 1.1% in the quarter, due to growth in FMCG and healthcare, but a decline in technology client spend. In the US, revenue once again declined by 4.2%, also due to a drop in spending by technology firms. Revenue in Western continental Europe was up 1.1%, and the rest of the world up 2.8%.

WPP chief executive Mark Read said: “Our top-line performance in Q3 was below our expectations and continued to be impacted by the cautious spending trends we saw in Q2, particularly across technology clients with more impact from this felt in GroupM over the summer than the first half.”

The holding company cut its like-for-like growth expectations for the year from between 1.5% and 3% to between 0.5% and 1%. Expectations for its operating margins also dropped slightly from 15% to between 14.8% and 15%.

Read said the group needed to “continue to evolve our offer to clients and simplify our business… to maximise the returns on our ongoing investments in AI and technology”.