Michael Page sees tough job market ahead

Marion Dakers

RECRUITMENT firm Michael Page posted a rise in quarterly profits in Britain yesterday but said the next three months are likely to be tough.

Michael Page, which makes 40 per cent of its profits from finance and accounting, said gross profit was up 0.3 per cent in the UK.

However, this was wiped out by a 8.2 per cent fall in Europe and the Middle East and an eight per cent decline in Asia Pacific.

Australia, where the jobs market has been dented by slower global demand for natural resources, was flagged up as particularly challenging for the firm.

The Americas fared better, with new offices in Latin America helping increase profit 4.6 per cent.

Overall profit fell 3.8 per cent to £135.2m in the quarter, excluding currency movements, and was down 5.2 per cent to £262m in the first half of the year.

By role, profits from permanent jobs fell 5.3 per cent to £105.2m, while temporary placements improved 1.9 per cent to £30m.

“Activity levels remained strong throughout the quarter, but with difficult conditions likely to continue in several markets, we expect quarter three will be another challenging quarter,” said chief executive Steve Ingham.

“We will continue to invest in our key, high-potential markets, to manage our fee earner headcount actively reflecting market conditions and to seek out efficiencies to drive down the costs of operational support.”

The firm has cut its headcount by 144 to 4,955 since the start of the year as part of its efforts to keep a lid on costs.

Rival Hays, which does more temporary recruitment, posted fees up one per cent earlier this month, helped by the first growth in its UK business in two years.