Page Group posts record profits as international growth offsets decline in UK

Recruitment firm Page Group reported record annual profits as international growth offset a decline in its UK operation which was hit by continued Brexit uncertainty.

The company made a pre-tax profit of £142.3 million in 2018 compared with £118.2 million the year before as revenue increased 13% to £1.5 billion.

Gross profit increased 16% to a record £814.9 million.

Total headcount increased by 743, or about 11%, last year to a record 7,772.

In the UK, revenue grew 0.2% to £313.5 million but gross profit fell 1.7% to £138.4 million due to “challenging market conditions”, as uncertainty surrounding Britain’s impending departure from the European Union weighed client confidence in hiring staff.

The UK business was the only section to report lower profits.

The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) business posted a 19% rise in gross profit to £394 million, Asia Pacific grew 18% to £161.2 million, and the Americas business rose 19% to £121 million.

Chief executive Steve Ingham said: “We are mindful of the macro-economic uncertainties that exist, but we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth, while continuing our strategic investments towards our vision of 10,000 headcount, £1 billion of gross profit and £200 million to £250 million of operating profit.

“Our flexible and diversified business model ensures that we are able to respond quickly to changes in market conditions.

“We have made further progress on our strategic transformation programmes, completing our network of regional shared service centres, three out of four of which are now on our new global finance system.

“We are also making good progress on the transformation of our business technology function, which will standardise our systems globally and move them into the cloud.”

Page Group shares were up more than 1% in early trade at 454.4p a share.

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