Sorrell Says -- Expect More Uncertainty, More #Marmitegate Until The New Year Starts With A Massive Hangover

It's not all that usual to see Sir Martin Sorrell on BBC Breakfast News, a magazine-style morning current affairs show that gives the headlines before getting the inside scoop on pumpkin stories and how foggy the commute to work will be. But interestingly, arguably the biggest name in the world of advertising was live via video link from New York this morning to discuss WPP's third-quarter results.

At a little under 3% growth, Sorrell described general market conditions in the third quarter as "softening." The period after the Brexit vote, he surmised, has been one of "uncertainty" where clients simply don't know whether to pump more money into British operations and so big decisions are being put off. Nissan's commitment to its carmaking plant in Sunderland is a good news point, he suggests, but the government will need to do more to reassure other big employers to keep their future plans focussed on the UK.

After touching on "Marmitegage" -- Tesco's spat with Unilever over price increases resulting from a weak pound -- Sorrell got down to brass tacks. To paraphrase his comments, rather than quote directly, the feeling is that there is a standoff at the moment between suppliers and retailers over who should be absorbing rising costs brought about by the weak pound. Interestingly, Sorrell agrees with retail experts who have been quoted widely in previous weeks saying that there is currently a standoff and nobody wants to scupper their chances of losing market share in the run-up to Christmas. So price rises are inevitable, but they are likely to be put off until the New Year.

So put very simply, we're still sleepwalking through the impact of the Brexit vote and we're likely to wake up with one heck of a hangover in the New Year. That means in addition to uncertainty in business circles we will also have inflation to contend with.

This morning's interview with Sorrell started off with a statement of how things are going with WPP, but as usually happens, widened in to a roundup of what we can expect. it's not the best cocktail imaginable, but for now, at least it looks like the UK is going to carry on as if nothing has happened. Price rises will be minimalised as the bonanza of the festive season descends on us. Then, when it's quietened down, reality will dawn in the New Year and we will have to swallow the medicine we've been putting off.

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