Michael Page profits plummet in the slump

RECRUITER Michael Page said yesterday that profits had been slashed in half in the first six months of the year, but that the jobs market in the UK was showing signs of stabilisation.<br /><br />The FTSE 250 firm said that it had made a pre-tax profit of &pound;43.2m, down 49 per cent year-on-year, on revenues which were 27 per cent lower at &pound;364.7m.<br /><br />Chief executive Steve Ingham warned of a &ldquo;challenging&rdquo; third quarter, but said there was hope of a recovery in some regions.<br /><br />&ldquo;In the UK we made roughly the same gross profit in the second quarter as we did in the first quarter, which is obviously a sign of stabilisation,&rdquo; said chief executive Steve Ingham.<br /><br />First-half profits in the UK, which represents around a third of Michael Page&rsquo;s earnings, fell 40.3 per cent to &pound;57m.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s too early to call the end of the recession, but confidence has improved, and people seem to want to move jobs more now than they did before,&rdquo; Ingham added.<br /><br />The company, which typically places clients in middle and senior management positions, said that it still had a strong balance sheet, with net cash up by over 300 per cent at &pound;99.2m. It held its interim dividend at 2.88p.<br /><br />Recruitment companies have suffered in recent months as firms across the world have cut staff to save costs during the economic downturn.<br /><br />Michael Page has itself axed about a third of its staff, or around 1,200 employees, over the past year.<br /><br />Rival Adecco, the world&rsquo;s largest staffing group, last week said it had yet to see a recovery in Europe and the US as second-quarter revenue slipped 31 per cent.