Finance lags as recruiter grows in Asia

Elizabeth Fournier
MICHAEL Page saw 2011 revenues boosted by growth in its Asia-Pacific business, but it wasn’t enough to lift operating profits, which fell by three per cent over the year.

Revenues in the recruitment specialist’s Asian operations rose 38 per cent to £166m while overall revenues hit £1.02bn – up from £832m in 2010.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said 2011 became more challenging as the year went on, as “trading became more challenging as general business confidence fell”.

He said all of the country’s geographic regions were hit but that growth had remained positive despite slowing growth rates.

Ingham was also relatively upbeat on the outlook for 2012, though he admitted that stagnation in the UK banking sector meant its finance and accounting group had stalled.

“In the first two months of 2012, with the exception of financial services, we have seen no significant further slowing,” he said.

Though gross profit at the firm rose by a record 25.2 per cent, it put the slight fall in operating profit down to investment in both headcount and growing the business abroad.

The UK contributed 24 per cent of the group’s gross profit in 2011, a drop of four per cent on the previous year, with operating profit coming in 6.7 per cent lower at £18.3m.

Shares in Michael Page fell 7.5 per cent yesterday to close at 443p.