Michael Page to expand in emerging markets

Michael Page is to go ahead with plans to enter more emerging markets where the British recruitment company sees long-term growth opportunities, it said when reporting growth slowed further in the fourth quarter.

Michael Page said Wednesday that, while being mindful of a tough global economy that has rapidly stunted growth levels over the course of 2011, it would open offices in three new countries, Columbia, Morocco and Taiwan, this year.

The company, which places people in accounting, financial and legal jobs and issued a profit warning in December, said fourth-quarter gross profit rose 13.4 per cent to £136m, down from growth of 30 per cent and 22 per cent in its second and third quarters.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said: "I cannot deny the fact that throughout the year it has become more challenging but it is not all doom and gloom and that is the key."

The permanent jobs market, which makes up 78 per cent of Michael Page's gross profit, has been hit hardest as firms avoided taking on fixed costs during the euro zone sovereign debt crisis and as potential jobseekers stayed put rather than risk moving.

"This is not like 2009. It is not crashing. In 2008, things were getting trickier toward the end ... and by the first quarter of 2009 we were in negative territory in most of our geographies," Ingham said. "We are not in that position. We are in positive territory in all of our geographies."