Sir Martin Sorrell, ceo of the world's second biggest advertising conglomerate WPP Group, has been fanning the flames of his business in China.

Sir Martin, attending a conference in Beijing, expects China to be WPP's third biggest market by 2008. He told Reuters news agency that the country will generate $350 million (€276.81m; £190.2m)for WPP this year, accounting for between 3.5% and 4% of its worldwide revenues.

Speaking of the overall global market, Sir Martin believes China will reach the number two position by 2008. Latest forecasts by Nielsen Media Research agree with the ranking but dispute the timescale, citing ten years [WAMN: 26-Jan-05].

According to Nielsen, adspend in the country rose 32% in the period October 2003 to September 2004, reaching $18.9bn.

WPP's shops, including JWT and Ogilvy & Mather, are posting strong growth in China as increasing numbers of advertisers pay a premium for sophisticated Western-style ads.

Sorrell says WPP aims to boost the revenue it gets from developing world markets to about a third of its total in the next five to ten years, from about 20% at present.

He adds: "We have to grow by at least 50% (in China) from where we are now in the next five to ten years. I'm expecting at least [double-digit growth], and I think we'll get that here."

Data sourced from Reuters; additional information by WARC staff