Strong like-for-like growth in this arm, known as health, offset a slower outcome from brand and marketing operation Signal.
The health division also saw good like-for-like gross profit growth and better-operating margins.
Operating profit performance was good in all three core capabilities consulting, insight and communications, said the statement.
"Contributions from the businesses acquired in 2017 continue to be in line with the board's expectations, extending the reach of Cello Health into the biotech community to complement the pharmaceutical core of the business and increasing the focus on the US market."
Signal’s slower year reflected lower activity by some UK-based clients.
Full year results will include £1.2mln of start-up costs for the launch of social media analytics tool Pulsar in the US and the new Boston office of Cello Health. Restructuring Signal’s capacity in Cheltenham has also cost £300,000.
Pulsar US will be consolidated into the group’s results in 2019.