Hiring stopped, dividend scrapped and a pay cut for bosses: WPP unveils £2bn coronavirus savings plan

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by David Prior

WPP, the world’s second-largest advertising company, has unveiled details of a plan to save £2billion in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain's biggest agency group, headquartered in London, currently employs 107,000 staff around the world and is the parent company for the likes of Grey, Mindshare, Ogilvy, Wavemaker, Wunderman Thompson and others. 

The group said in a statement today that while 2020 “started well with strong business momentum", the impact of COVID-19 on the business will increase but “it is not possible at this stage to quantify the depth or duration of the impact.”

The company has therefore stopped its £950m share buyback scheme, of which £330m has been completed, and scrapped the final dividend, saving £1.1bn in total.

The company is also looking to make up to £800m in savings this year, including a 20% pay cut for WPP’s executive committee and board for an initial three months.

Staff salary increases have been halted, hiring frozen and discretionary spending - on things like travel, hotels and award shows - stopped.

“It is clear that the companies in the strongest financial position will be best placed to protect their people, serve their clients and benefit their shareholders during a period of great uncertainty, which is why we are taking the steps we are outlining today,” said WPP chief executive, Mark Read (pictured).