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Saturday 18 August 2018

Page Group lifts profits but warns on political uncertainty in multiple markets

Global recruitment firm Page Group said UK profits were hit by a fall in confidence.

Uncertainty has impacted Page Group's UK profits (PA)
Uncertainty has impacted Page Group's UK profits (PA)

By Helen Cahill, Press Association City Reporter

Recruitment giant Page Group has warned that political turmoil in Britain, Spain and Brazil poses a risk to the business as it unveiled a rise in group profits.

Page said it was pleased with the group’s financial performance in the first quarter, but that it faces uncertainties around Brexit, and the upcoming elections in Brazil.

Group profit rose by 10.3% to £187.7 million in a record quarter for the group, with profits in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rising by 18.2%.

A number of macroeconomic uncertainties remain, including Brexit in the UK, challenges in Catalonia, potential impact from strikes in France, and Brazil's forthcoming elections Page CEO Steve Ingham

Profit in France and Germany, which represent a quarter of the group, increased by 18% and 28% respectively.

However, gross profit in the UK, which accounts for around a fifth of the business, fell by 7.1%. The Surrey-based company said this was due to a drop in confidence, particularly within its recruitment agency Michael Page, and the timing of Easter.

Steve Ingham, chief executive of Page, said the group was on track to meet the market consensus for full-year operating profit of £132 million.

“We are pleased with the strong group performance in the first quarter, which was achieved despite the timing of Easter, and we are encouraged by the growth seen in the majority of our markets,” he said.

“However, a number of macroeconomic uncertainties remain, including Brexit in the UK, challenges in Catalonia, potential impact from strikes in France, and Brazil’s forthcoming elections.”

The Americas now represent the fastest-growing market for the group. The US, which accounts for more than half of Page’s business in the region, posted growth of 17%.

Shares in the group fell by more than 2% in morning trading.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said that although the company was sticking to its consensus forecasts for 2018, the cautious outlook suggested the executives were “hedging their bets”.

“The reason for weakness could be an underwhelming UK performance and a fairly downbeat outlook statement alongside the update,” he said.

Press Association

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