Recruitment firm PageGroup has seen its financials on the uplift towards pre-pandemic levels in the past six months, which its boss hopes is “sustainable” amid pent-up demand.
Shares sank 3.3 per cent in its afternoon trading, down to 602p per share.
Revenue hit £766.4m in the six months to 30 June, up from £655m last year and edging closer to the £820.5m the group recorded in 2019.
The group’s gross profits have also begun to level out, down just 3.7 per cent on 2019 levels and up 38.2 per cent on 2020’s stunted profits.
Meanwhile, it saw a more than 100 per cent increase in its operating profits – up from just £0.4m in 2020 to £64.3m.
The recruiter group has seen increased business since restrictions eased, with the demand for “white-collar” workers currently besting the number of workers eyeing new jobs.
‘The million-dollar question’
In response to whether the upbeat financial trajectory was sustainable or a result of pent-up demand, chief executive Steve Ingham said: “That’s the million-dollar question, so far, we’ve increased business every quarter since Q2 of last year. So there’s been a steady improvement.
“In fact, in the second quarter of this year, we were actually growing against our record year 2019, which was, of course, pre-Covid,” he told BBC 4’s Today Programme.
The recruitment boss said that there are signs the results may be sustainable, as Australia and Singapore, two of the 37 markets it works in, are still experiencing lockdown.
In the UK, technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as logistics and supply chain recruitment are “hot” markets for the firm currently.
The boss added that accounting and banks are doing particularly well in the City of London.
“There is a real demand for candidates. At the moment, the demand is outperforming the supply.”
There are also signs of wages increasing, the boss continued, saying that “What we’re finding is people are getting more than one offer. And of course, clients are doing their best to keep their staff, so we’re seeing existing salaries being elevated to try and persuade people to stay where they are.
Ingham explained that some candidates are even receiving more than one offer from recruiters, with employers engaging in bidding wars to win strong candidates while there is a reduced supply.