PageGroup cuts workforce further as trading troubles deepen

15 April 2024, 15:24

City of London
PageGroup financials. Picture: PA

The group reported gross profit down 12.8% in the first three months of the year, with March recording an 18% slide.

Recruiter PageGroup has revealed further trading woes and more role cuts as the global jobs market remained under pressure at the start of 2024.

The group reported gross profit down 12.8% in the first three months of the year, with March recording an 18% slide, which comes after a fall of 8.9% in the fourth quarter of 2023.

PageGroup said it reduced its fee-earner workforce by another 1.7%, or 100 roles, over the first quarter.

The firm said it now intends to hold its fee earner headcount “broadly at existing levels”, having trimmed the workforce by more than 1,000 last year.

The group said it saw a “slight deterioration” in job flow towards the end of the first quarter, with job seekers more wary of accepting offers and firms putting off recruitment decisions against an uncertain economic backdrop.

Shares tumbled 8% in Monday afternoon trading after the gloomy update.

In the UK, it posted a 19.2% plunge in gross profit to £27.1 million, following a decline of 19.9% in the final three months of 2023.

Nicholas Kirk, chief executive of PageGroup, said: “The slower end to the fourth quarter of 2023 continued into the first quarter of 2024, particularly within Continental Europe.

“Overall, activity levels remain strong, however we experienced a slight deterioration in job flow towards the end of the quarter.

“Conversion of final interviews to accepted offers is still the most significant challenge, as candidate and client sentiment remains subdued reflecting the general macro-economic uncertainty in most of our markets.”

PageGroup said permanent recruitment continues to be more affected than temporary across all of its markets – down 15% and 7% group-wide respectively in the first quarter – with firms looking for more flexible options to ride out the uncertainty.

It said there had been no improvement in trading conditions across the UK, which accounts for 12% of group gross profits, nor in Asia or the US.

Jobs markets have faltered worldwide over the past year as weaker economic conditions have hit recruitment.

Last month, PageGroup reported a 39.6% slump in pre-tax profits for 2023 as gross profits dropped 6.3% on a constant currency basis.

PageGroup said it was also continuing to see an easing in salary growth from the high levels seen in 2022 and early 2023.

But it said the particularly weak performance in March was down to tough comparatives against strong trading a year earlier, as well as the timing of Easter.

“Against this backdrop, activity levels remained good and we continued to experience acute shortages of highly skilled candidates in nearly all our markets, which was supportive of continued high fee rates,” it said.

By Press Association