British recruitment firm warns of difficult months ahead

British accounting and finance recruitment firm PageGroup has reported a fall in first half profits and warned that market conditions will remain tough over the next three months.

The firm reported a 4.3 per cent drop in first half profits compared to the same period in the previous year following a two per cent fall in second quarter profits. Good results in its operations in the Americas (first half profits up 4.6 per cent) were more than offset by a 9.1 per cent fall in EMEA profits (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and a 4.5 per cent fall in Asia Pacific profits. UK profits were down 0.4 per cent.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said:

Activity levels remained strong throughout the quarter, but with difficult conditions likely to continue in several markets, we expect Q3 will be another challenging quarter.

As we indicated earlier in the year we continue to actively manage our cost base, both to take account of market conditions as well as to improve the Group's operating performance. As a result, headcount has reduced by 144 since the start of the year, primarily in operational support staff.

UK-based rival Hays last week reported its first fee rise in two years, helped along by strong performance in its UK business.