Sorrell: Election will hit business


Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell has warned that the general election will hurt business, whichever of the two main parties wins.

Sir Martin said a Conservative victory would create the uncertainty of a referendum on staying in Europe in 2016 or 2017 while Labour appeared to be campaigning on a “bashing business” platform.

The WPP boss made the remarks as the global advertising giant reported a 12% rise in pre-tax profits to £1.45 billion for last year, pointing to like-for-like revenue growth in all regions.

Billings were up 6.8% to £46.2 billion on a constant currency basis though exchange rate movements took a 6-7% chunk out of reported results leaving them flat year-on-year, the group said.

Sir Martin said signs of improvement in the eurozone gave grounds for optimism.

But the group also cautioned about a series of “flapping grey swans” of uncertainty in the world economy, including the UK general election in May.

Sir Martin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is a difficult choice either way. If you vote Conservative you are facing a referendum in 2017 or 2016.

“If you vote Labour, Labour seem to have a platform of criticism, of bashing business and therefore you worry on that count too.”

He described the referendum as not “anti-business” but “anti-economy”.

“The issue is whether you can get any change before 2016 or 17. I think the Prime Minister has drawn the potential date for a referendum forward to 2016 which would be better news – less period of time, 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 Russias and Indias and Chinas. They’re more with Germany and France and Italy and Spain and that’s where our pattern of trade is.

“But reform it from within. It would be best to be inside the tent rather than outside the tent.”

Sir Martin added: “The budget deficit is still high and after the election whichever Government, whichever colour, is going to have to deal with the deficit again.”

WPP said it was experiencing a “good start to 2015” with like-for-like revenue up 6.7% in January and net sales up 3.9%.

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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