Michael Page feels pain from banking sector

Kasmira Jefford
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TOUGH financial job market conditions have continued to impact growth at white-collar recruiter Michael Page, which reported a slide in quarterly profits yesterday.

The British group, which places people in accounting, financial and legal jobs across 35 countries, is battling a slowdown in markets as clients hold off on hiring or moving jobs in light of unstable economic conditions.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said while the group was seeing “good activity” at the front of the business, “the issue is down to the caution [clients] are showing when it comes to making a decision…it becomes very difficult to predict.”

Ingham said the banking sector has been particularly shaken, with recent events such as the Libor scandal rekindling public anger over the industry. Banking now accounts for eight per cent of group profits compared to 11 per cent last year.

Overall, the company reported a second-quarter gross profit of £138m, 6.6 per cent below its second-highest quarter on record in the same period in 2011, but 1.6 per cent up on the quieter first quarter of 2012.

In its UK arm, which makes up more than a quarter of revenues, gross profit fell 9.2 per cent to £31.1m.

While full-year operating profit is expected to be broadly in line with market estimates, the group said its third quarter was likely to be challenging, as Eurozone issues, austerity measures and high unemployment figures hit customer confidence combined with a quieter holiday period.

Shares fell 3.46 per cent to 351p.