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Business News

Michael Page shares slide with ‘difficult’ end to year expected


Shares in white collar recruiter Michael Page International fell 5% today after a slowdown in Australia and Europe forced it to downgrade expected operating profit for the year.

The firm also faces its own recruitment process after Page admitted its finance director Andrew Bracey resigned unexpectedly on Friday — just a little over a year since taking the post.

When Bracey joined from Ocado last April, chief executive Steve Ingham said: “Andrew’s appointment reflects the need for Michael Page to operate with continued financial discipline throughout the group.” But his swift departure — Page’s financial controller Kelvin Stagg has been named interim finance boss — saw the firm’s trading statement bought forward.

The City also expressed disappointment with the recruiter’s performance this year. Analysts had anticipated the jobs group to post an annual profit of around £70.5 million, but looking ahead at the next three months, Ingham warned: “We expect another challenging quarter, with difficult conditions likely to continue in some markets.

“We expect full year operating profit to be around £68 million.”

Most of the pain in the third quarter was in Asia Pacific, which makes up more than a fifth of Page’s business.

Gross profit slipped 9.5% to £27.3 million, predominantly due to a slump in the mining sector in Australia and New Zealand. Page said Japan, India and Malaysia all had record quarters, but that wasn’t enough to reverse the Antipodean hit.

The recruitment sector has slowed in the past year as financial services continue to falter, leading to firms delaying job drives and staff staying put. The UK is performing better than elsewhere — Page’s news that gross profit rose 5% in its British business echoed similarly buoyant figures from rival Hays last week. But recruiters originally based here have fast expanded overseas.

Page said the best UK areas for job growth were property and construction, buying and merchandising, design and digital marketing. Its finance and legal divisions in this country were also on the up. But the international uncertainty meant shares in Michael Page slipped 23.4p to 471.1p.