LONDON: WPP has reported a 47% fall in profits for the first half of the year, commenting that the impact of the recession had been "severe".

Pre-tax profits for the six months to June fell to £179 million ($292m; €204m) despite swingeing cuts in both staff and operating costs at the firm.

Like-for-like revenue, including the impact of acquisitions and the weakness of the pound against the dollar and euro, rose by 28% to £4.3 billion.

WPP said this morning it was surprised at the severity of the firm's 8% fall in revenue over the period. It had been forecasting a drop of just half that amount over the six month period.

But despite the grim results, WPP said the second half of 2009 was forecast to show "a marked improvement in profitability". 

It said revenues in 2010 were likely to be "even steven" and pledged that the group would continue to be conservative with its budgeting.

The cost of necessary job cuts at the world's second largest advertising and marketing company has been significant.

"As the recession has increasingly impacted Western continental Europe, these severance payments have increased in a region where statutory severance costs are customarily greater", WPP said.

The company now employs 106,683 people, excluding associates, down almost 6% from a total workforce last year of 113,208.

Data sourced from BBC News; additional content by WARC staff