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UK lags behind global recovery for recruiting giants

Page Group and Robert Walters have seen a big dip in UK activity during the pandemic.


Oxford Circus in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Oxford Circus in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Oxford Circus in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Two of the UK’s biggest recruitment companies show that while the UK sector is recovering, it still has some way to go, despite bounces abroad.

Page Group said that its UK gross profit was still 9% below its 2019 levels in the most recent three-month period.

It comes despite growth in all three other markets Page operates in. In the Asia-Pacific region the company’s profit has grown by double digits compared to two years ago.

Rival Robert Walters reported a worse recovery, with all markets still below 2019 levels.

But while gross profit in Asia Pacific is still 7.5% below 2019, and Europe is down 15.5%, the UK is the standout loser.

In Britain the company is still trading 28.6% behind 2019 and has only recovered slightly from last year’s pandemic hit, something its chief executive hinted could push investment elsewhere.

The firm did, however, say that the confidence of both its clients and job candidates continued to improve in the last quarter. London’s finance, legal and technology sectors showed the highest levels of recruitment activity.

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Chief executive Robert Walters said that activity was strongest in Asia Pacific and Europe.

“To capitalise on this momentum, we will be investing in additional headcount in those geographies and disciplines showing the strongest signs of sustained growth,” he said.

“The group is benefiting from operational gearing and due to a very strong close to the quarter, I am delighted to say that profit for the full year is expected to be significantly ahead of current market expectations.”

Page Group boss Steve Ingham said: “Looking ahead, there continues to be a high degree of global macro-economic uncertainty as Covid-19 remains a significant issue and restrictions remain in a number of the group’s markets.

“Additionally, at this stage of the recovery, it is not easy to determine whether the improved performance is still the result of pent-up supply and demand, or a sustainable trend.

“However, and notwithstanding the early stage in the year, the strength of our performance in (the first half of the year), and notably in June, has further increased confidence in our outlook for the year.”