PageGroup’s annual gross profits rise despite slower UK hiring

Recruitment firm PageGroup posted higher gross profits for 2019 despite a difficult fourth quarter and slower hiring in the UK.

The company saw shares lift higher after gross profits increased by 5% to £856 million, as it was buoyed by trading in mainland Europe and the Americas.

However, its performance dipped in the fourth quarter, as it posted a 2.6% decline in gross profit to £205.6 million for the three months to December.

In the UK, gross profits slid 4.8% to £31.9 million for the quarter as it was hampered by Brexit-related caution among businesses.

Page said strong performances in India, Germany and the US helped to offset the impact of “challenging” conditions in the UK, China and France.

It added that it anticipates that tough trading conditions from the fourth quarter in many regions will continue into 2020.

The company said its trading was in line with expectations and it expects operating profits for the year to have been between its guidance of £140 million and £150 million.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said: “The majority of the group’s regions were impacted by macro-economic and political uncertainty in quarter four.

“However, we have a flexible and highly diversified business model that enables us to react quickly to changes in market conditions.

“We are clear market leaders in many of our markets, with a highly experienced senior management team, which, we believe, positions us well to take advantage of all opportunities during 2020.”

PageGroup issued two profit warnings in 2019 as it stumbled amid tough trading conditions in some of its key markets.

Fellow recruiter Robert Walters saw its shares drop last week after revealing that its UK profits plunged 23% on the back of Brexit and political uncertainty.

Shares in PageGroup rose 3.1% to 482.6p in early trading on Tuesday.