A logo hangs on the wall outside the WPP offices in London, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) – WPP (WPP.L) reported a return to quarterly organic sales growth on Friday for the first time in over a year, showing the world’s biggest advertising company had avoided the problems ensnaring French rival Publicis (PUBP.PA).

The British group said organic growth less pass-through costs, its key sales measurement, rose 0.7% in the three months to end September, an improvement on the previous quarter when it dropped 1.4% and against a consensus of down 0.6%.

It said however that despite the improvement in trading it was reiterating its full-year outlook for a drop of between 1.5% and 2% because there would be twists and turns ahead.

The group showed improvement across all its regions, helped by contract wins in the quarter including Mondelez and eBay.

WPP’s performance has steadily improved through the year as it recovers from the loss of work from clients such as Ford, and embarks on a new strategy of merging agencies and changing incentive schemes to produce a more joined-up service.

The update will provide relief to investors who were spooked earlier this month when Publicis, the world’s third biggest advertising company, cut its full-year sales target for the second time in 2019 due to a fall in spending by U.S. clients and a weak performance by its digital arm.

“WPP’s performance in the third quarter is another important step in the strategy we outlined in December 2018 to return the company to sustainable growth in line with our peers in 2021,” Chief Executive Mark Read said.

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Paul Sandle

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