LONDON — WPP on Thursday reported positive Q4 2021 results, with like-for-like revenue across its PR division up by 15.1%.

It’s the fourth consecutive quarterly revenue rise for the division whose PR agencies include BCW, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Finsbury Glover Hering and newly acquired Sard Verbinnen. 

The PR division started its turnaround with a 2% lift in Q1 2021 — its first quarterly revenue rise for two years — and included a high of 16% in Q3.

WPP credited the PR agency growth in part to robust business from H+K and specialist agencies, as well as BCW’s accelerating growth. The holding company also said the group benefited from last year’s acquisition of Sard Verbinnen, whose merger with FGH will create a financial PR powerhouse with combined revenues of $330m and employing 1,000 staff across 25 worldwide offices.

WPP as a whole had “an outstanding year,” with 2021 revenue up 6.7%, or 13.3% LFL from 2020, and 12.1% LFL less pass-through costs.

Growth was particularly strong in the US where business was up 11.7%; the UK, up 9.9%; Germany up 3.4%; and Greater China 13.6%. Australian business dipped 2.2%.

WPP CEO Mark Read said: “It has been an outstanding year for WPP. Our top-line growth, driven by strong demand for our services in digital marketing, media, ecommerce and technology, has resulted in our fastest organic growth for over 20 years. As a result, we are two years ahead of our plan, hitting our 2023 revenue target in 2021.

“As clients seek to accelerate their growth and transform how they reach customers, the depth, breadth and global scale of our offer - which combines creativity with technology and data, through Choreograph, and the largest global media platform in GroupM - is proving its value for existing and new clients. The talent, dynamism and commitment of our people have also shone through. Our extensive partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, the expansion of our work with Google and the continuation of our longstanding relationship with Unilever demonstrate the value that three of the world’s leading marketing organisations place in WPP.

“We have made substantial strategic progress, creating the world’s leading board-level communications firm through the merger of Finsbury Glover Hering and Sard Verbinnen, and acquiring capabilities in AI, commerce and technology services to leverage across all of WPP for future growth. Cash generation continues to be very strong, underpinned by efficiencies achieved in our transformation programme, allowing us to make significant investments in our offer and reward our people for their huge contribution, while returning over £1 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks.

“We look forward to 2022 with confidence. We are guiding to strong top-line growth, improving profitability and continued investment in our people and services.”