Michael Page looks abroad

City A.M. Reporter
RECRUITMENT company Michael Page is to go ahead with plans to enter more emerging markets where it sees long-term growth opportunities, it said yesterday as it reported that growth slowed further in the fourth quarter.

Michael Page said 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.”

Its EMEA market, which makes up 45 per cent of group fees, was up 15.3 per cent, down from 30.8 per cent in the third quarter. Growth in the Americas and Asia Pacific slowed to 18.6 per cent and 23.3 per cent, respectively, from 48 per cent and 44 per cent in the third quarter. Full-year gross profit rose by 25 per cent to £554m.

It saw marginal growth in the UK, where banking and public sector markets have been hit hard, also affecting rivals Hays and Robert Walters, which have both recently sounded cautious tones on prospects for 2012.

The company said it expected to post a 2011 pre-tax profit of around £85m.