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WPP says market research division showed best growth

LONDON - WPP Group said that its information, insight and consultancy sector saw higher growth than any other, as it reported revenues of £1.068bn for the last quarter.

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Total revenue for insight, which is part of Kantar and also includes BMRB International, Millward Brown, and Lightspeed Research, stood at £195.6m for the quarter, up from £176.4m for the same period last year.

It was a strong performance for the insight division and which WPP sees as one of its key growth areas.

The insight sector outperformed advertising and media, up 9%, public affairs and PR, up 8%, and branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications, which saw revenues rise by 13% for the fourth quarter.

As anticipated, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell is wary of the marketing industry's ability to maintain growth rates next year.

"The jury remains out on 2005. There are still concerns about the prospects for the US economy after the Presidential election, with its fiscal deficit, weak dollar and rising commodity prices, including oil, although the weakness in some of the major markets in Western Europe is ameliorating," he said.

The company said that it expects next year's industry growth rates to be around 2% to 3%, compared with 3% to 4% this year, although the US slowdown could be tempered by continued growth in Asia Pacific, if the Chinese economy manages a soft landing, as well as continued recovery in Western Europe and Latin America.

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