Asia, LatAm job market spurs Michael Page profit

Recruiter Michael Page posted a 42 percent rise in first-half pretax profit, boosted by growing demand in Asia and Latin America, defying concerns that a sluggish economic recovery would hit turnover.

Michael Page, which finds jobs for people in financial, accounting and legal services, announced pretax profit up to £61.4m in the six months to June 30 against £43.2m for the same period last year.

Chief Executive Steve Ingham said that growth was driven by younger markets in Asia and Latin America and improved ‘churn' in permanent jobs, whereby more people are feeling confident enough to resign and take on new posts, creating more vacancies.

“As soon as the confidence creeps back into the white collar market, then people feel confident enough to move on and of course that creates a vacancy for us, it is that churn that is driving for us,” Ingham said in a call with reporters.

The company said 70 percent of first-half gross profit was generated outside of Britain and more than 50 percent of it was derived from non-financial and accounting sectors such as healthcare, mining and business support services.

Eyes on Asia jobs
Whilst job placements in Britain were flat on last year, growth in China was particularly strong, Ingham said, especially in Michael Page's Shanghai and Beijing offices and the company wanted to expand further in the country and Asia.

“We're performing at record levels in both Shanghai and Beijing … China's a fantastic opportunity for us in the first half … growth we're seeing in that part of the world is particularly strong,” Ingham said.

The company expects to make several announcements in the next year, Ingham said, regarding new cities where it wants to establish its business.

 “India is a target region for us, it's the only big significant region that we're not in,” Ingham said.

Job freezes at some major banks was not a big concern, Ingham said, as a significant amount of its recruitment in the banking sector is for back-office professionals, rather than high-end management.

“Prospects are looking very good for Michael Page and clearly the investment they've made in diversifying geographic spread and discipline is clearly beginning to pay off,” Paul Jones, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said.

August will probably see a lull in business, Ingham said, in line with the rest of the recruitment sector, as the summer holiday season kicks in.

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