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UK market helps drive Michael Page growth

The UK continues to improve for recruitment specialist Michael Page.
In a third quarter update today the business, which has a Liverpool financial services, legal and Michael Page Personal operation in Old Hall Street’s Plaza Building, reported an 11.6% increase in total gross profits across the group, of £132.9m in the period.
The UK division led the way with a 13.7% improvement to £35.3m, followed by 11.2% for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) division with gross profits of £49.6m, Asia Pacific with an 11.1% rise to £28m, and the Americas, which achieved an improvement of 9.6% to £20m.
Total gross profits from permanent placements increased by 12.8% to £101.4m, and the temporary market saw an increase of 8% to £31.5m.
Chief executive Steve Ingham said: “The 11.6% increase in the group’s gross profit in constant currency for the third quarter reflects steady year-on-year growth in all four regions.
“EMEA, UK and the Americas all saw improved growth rates compared to quarter two 2014, but the growth rate in Asia slowed from 25% in quarter two to 17%.
“In reported rates, our gross profit was up only 5% to £132.9m. The impact of foreign exchange lowered our reported figure by nearly 7 percentage points, equivalent to £9m of gross profit and £1.6m of operating profit compared to last year.
“The EMEA region faced increased political and economic uncertainty, both in Europe and the Middle East. In France and Germany, Page Personnel (‘PP’) continued to outperform our predominantly permanent Michael Page businesses.
“UK growth continued to improve, with the strongest performances from our finance & accounting, marketing, procurement & supply chain, property & construction, and PP businesses.
“In Asia, growth in the third quarter slowed from 25% to 17%, with growth in our largest business, Greater China, slowing from 37% to 25%. Australasia was positive for the first time in over two years.”
He added: “The roll-out of our new Page Recruiting System was completed in the US and in Page Personnel UK during the quarter, both of which went well. We expect to complete the roll-out to all UK businesses by the end of the year.”
Looking ahead, he said: “So far this year we have made good progress in a number of markets, notably in the UK, however as we look ahead to the final quarter we are becoming more cautious on the short-term outlook in a number of international markets.
“In EMEA, confidence levels are increasingly fragile and our Asian business, although still performing well, saw its growth rate slow. Foreign exchange movements also continue to affect our reported results.
“These factors, allied to our strong headcount investment, lead us to now expect operating profit modestly lower than consensus market expectations (operating profit of £82m against £68.2m in 2013), but still showing year-on-year growth of over 20% in constant currencies.”
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