Michael Page upbeat after record results

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The Independent Online

The recruitment consultant Michael Page unveiled a 32 per cent rise in its fourth-quarter gross profits yesterday, driven by rapid growth in its European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) operations.

The group, which specialises in recruiting professional workers such as accountants and lawyers, now predicts its gross profits for the full year will come in at £348.7m, an increase of more than 30 per cent on 2005.

The chief executive, Steve Ingham, also remained upbeat about the prospects for the year ahead. He said: "2006 has been a very successful year for the group with all regions contributing to our record results and a particularly strong performance from Europe.

"I am pleased with the successful acceleration of our investment spend in 2006 in order to capture a number of growth opportunities, all the time following the proven Michael Page model of expanding organically with experienced senior managers. With this investment, we expect to continue to deliver good growth in 2007 and beyond."

Gross profits in the EMEA region, excluding France, rose by 68 per cent during the last three months of 2006. The French business, which is Michael Page's biggest operation outside of the UK, grew by 22 per cent.

The UK, where it generates almost half of its profits, grew by almost 19 per cent in the fourth quarter, and by 20 per cent over the year. Asia Pacific also turned in growth of just over 20 per cent, while its US operation saw profits leap by more than 66 per cent.

Shares in the group rose0.5p to 449.5p, giving it a market value of £1.5bn. The stock has risen 70 per cent over the past 12 months.