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US market shows growth but UK is still tough says WPP

LONDON – The US continues to show growth, but Western Europe, and France, Germany and the UK in particular, remain tough, WPP Group said in a trading update.

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According to WPP, the first five months of 2004 were proving to be a better year than 2003, with the so-called quadrennial factors improving growth prospects and adding up to a better climate for advertising and marketing services expenditures.

However, it is the US that continues lead the way, followed by Asia Pacific, which WPP said remains strong across the board with recovery in Japan and despite fears of over-heating in China.

In contrast, Europe is proving weak, with tough markets in France, Germany and the UK with Scandinavia, Benelux, Portugal, Greece and Turkey also remaining hard.

Despite the tough climate, WPP said that revenues in the UK were up over 12% compared with 8% in Continental Europe and 10% in North America.

Philip Lader, chairman of WPP, said: "Brand advertising continues to grow, along with information, insight and consultancy, and branding and identity. Public relations and public affairs show significant improvement over last year, continuing the turnaround seen first at the end of last year."

WPP said that its average headcount down over 2%, revenue per head up over 4% in the first five months and that the most buoyant part of its business was media investment management, along with direct, interactive, internet and healthcare activities.

By sector, advertising and media investment management was up over 14%, information, insight and consultancy up over 5%, public relations and public affairs up almost 7% and branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications up almost 19%.

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