Jobs market tough for recruitment firm Page

Marion Dakers
RECRUITMENT group Michael Page posted an 11 per cent drop in pre-tax profit for the first six months of the year yesterday, and said conditions are likely to remain tough in the coming quarter.
The professional jobs specialist said revenues were down 0.9 per cent at constant exchange rates at £503.2m, while profits before tax and exceptional items fell to £32m.
The second quarter had shown signs of improvement, the firm said, adding that the traditional summer lull in the jobs market will keep a lid on growth in the coming three months.
In the UK, where Michael Page makes almost a quarter of its profits, revenues were flat at £146.1m in what it described as a “tough but stable” hiring market.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa – the source of 41 per cent of Michael Page’s earnings – posted a 2.9 per cent fall in revenues and a 9.2 per cent slump in gross profit.
Australia, which has been hit by a slowdown in the mining industry, posted a 20 per cent fall in gross profits in constant currency, taking the shine off its expansion elsewhere in Asia Pacific.
“As we indicated earlier in the year, we continue to manage our cost base actively, both to take account of market conditions as well as to improve the group’s operating performance,” said chief executive Steve Ingham in a statement yesterday.
“As a result, headcount has reduced by 144 since the start of the year, primarily in operational support staff.”
The firm said its full-year earnings are likely to be in line with current market estimates.
Shares in the firm closed down four per cent, having hit an 18-month high last week.