Hiring drive in City boosts Michael Page

RECRUITMENT group Michael Page yesterday reported booming profit growth over the first half, driven by a strong performance across its global divisions and by an explosion in demand for City workers in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said recruitment activity in the City has now been rebounding for several consecutive quarters – a trend seen right across the board from the large investment banks through to other sectors such as hedge funds.

“Having cut back quite heavily when the market was in trouble, most firms now just don’t have the capacity to handle the increased levels of business,” Ingham told City A.M.. “That momentum has also continued into July, so while we obviously can’t predict in which direction the economy is headed, we are hopeful that financial services recruitment will continue on its current course over the second half of the year.”

Michael Page reported a 42 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £61.4m for the six months to the end of June, underpinned by eight per cent revenue growth to £393.5m.

The group said that the recovery in its UK operations, which represent almost a third of gross profits, had started in the financial services, sales and retail markets and had now spread to almost all of its sectors.

It cautioned that the nature of recruitment means that the group is vulnerable to economic shocks, but said the broad diversification of its business across geographies and industries would reinforce performance in times of stress.

Over 40 per cent of Michael Page’s fees are now generated in developing recruitment markets such as Asia and Latin America, where the group says prospects for long-term growth are strong.

Despite the bullish tone of the results, shares in the firm closed down 1.34 per cent yesterday at 368p as investors fretted about the effect of the uncertain macro economic outlook on the business.