Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Michael Page slowdown slowing

(By Anthony Miller – Wednesday 7th October 2009 7:30am). No one is calling it green shoots – more that the ground is subsiding less. In today’s Q3 trading update, International recruitment firm Michael Page said it has started to see stabilisation in some markets, with Asia Pacific and Americas regions both growing sequentially. Gross profit in the UK business was down 39% yoy and 3% seq, though GP in the Legal, Technology, HR & Secretarial segment fared worse: -46% yoy and -8% seq. Management was slightly more upbeat in its outlook than the ambiguous statement at half-time (see Michael Page – 12 months is a long time in recruitment), advising “we can maintain our market presence and continue to gain market share”. However, Michael Page got a bit of a kick in the teeth from HMRC, which now wants to reclaim a multi-million pound VAT refund it repaid to the company earlier in the year. As we mooted for rival Harvey Nash’s interims last week (see Harvey Nash keeps its head above water), there’s nothing here to bring cheer to our sector, and I expect that sentiment to be echoed in Hays’ trading update tomorrow.

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