Q4 results bring optimism to Michael Page

Michael Page the recruitment specialist saw its group performance increase in
the last quarter of 2009, but the results reveal that almost a quarter of the
company’s Q4 business has disappeared year on year.

Interim results out this morning show the group booked gross profit of £90.6m
for Q4, 10% up on the previous quarter. However, the result for the last three
months remain just over 23% down on the same period in 2008.

Michael Page’s UK results saw gross profit drop 2.8% in Q4 against the third
quarter but 26.7% down on Q4 in 2008.

Gross profit from finance and accounting recruitment, the largest part of
Michael Page’s business at 16%, was just 1% higher than Q3 of 2009, but the last
quarter was 23% lower than the figure for Q4 in 2008.

Steve Ingham, chief executive, said: “2009 has been one of the most
challenging years in the Group’s history, during which we have had to
significantly reduce our cost base. However, in doing so we have retained all
our key people, maintained our presence in all the markets in which we operate
and invested modestly in expanding into new markets. As a result, with the
increase in market share which we believe we have gained, with our broader
platform and existing available capacity, we are well positioned to benefit from
any improvement in economic conditions.”

Michael Page remain locked in a disagreement with HM Revenue & Customs
over a VAT rebate. Michael Page had made claims for up to £100m in overpaid VAT.

HMRC began repayments last year totalling £37m but in Setember called a halt
writing to Michael Page saying that the claim should not have been paid and were
considering steps to recover the money.

Michael Page said the final outcome in the dispute remained “unclear”.

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profits slump

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