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09 Apr 2021 | 07:03

Page Group more confident as trading improves

(Sharecast News) - PageGroup said improving trading made it more confident about the outlook as it reported a 2% increase in first-quarter profit. Gross profit for the three months to the end of March rose to £184.2m from £182.3m a year earlier and performance improved throughout the period, the recruitment group said. Profit at constant currency fell 9.9% compared with the first quarter of 2019.

In March, gross profit was 31% higher than a year earlier and 2% lower than in 2019. Page predicted annual operating profit between £90m and £100m. Operating profit was £17m in 2020 and £146.7m in 2019.

First-quarter profit rose 5.1% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa - which makes up half of profit - and 14.8% in Asia Pacific. Profit fell 13.5% in the Americas and 11% in the UK.

Gross profit rose 15% in Germany, 19% in Italy and 18% in Spain during March from a year earlier and in France profit fell 7%. Page said these were record months in those markets.

Steve Ingham, chief executive, said: "Year-on-year results in each of the three months of the first quarter improved sequentially, continuing the monthly trend since May last year. Significantly, our performance in March was down just 2% on 2019. This noticeable improvement in March was seen throughout the group and was achieved despite the backdrop of continued and increasing restrictions or lockdowns in many of our markets."

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