Group gross profit -4.4% year-on-year, the business is profitable in all established markets
Signs of improvement in many markets as the period progressed
77% of gross profit generated from outside the UK
59% of gross profit generated from non Finance and Accounting disciplines
Gross profit from permanent placements reduced by 6% (-7%*)
Gross profit from temporary placements grew by 2% (+1%*)
Continued focus on operational efficiency, with headcount down by 144 (-2.8%) in first half of 2013, primarily in operational support
Strong balance sheet with net cash at 30 June 2013 of £47.6m
Interim dividend held at 3.25p
Commenting on the results, Steve Ingham, Chief Executive Officer of PageGroup, said:
"PageGroup delivered a robust performance throughout the first half, against a backdrop of challenging market conditions across most of our regions, reporting gross profit of £261.9m, down 4.4% year-on-year. Market conditions also showed signs of improvement during the second quarter of 2013, with a 6.6% increase in gross profit compared to the first quarter.
"We have made excellent progress on our key strategic objectives following the management changes last year:
continued investment in each of our 5 high potential markets: China, South East Asia, Germany, Latin America and the USA;
increased focus on consistency and efficiency in our operational support teams;
the turnaround of our USA business, where we are up 27%* in gross profit this year; and
further discipline diversification.
"During the six months to June we saw good performances in a number of regions, most notably in North America. Our offices in Japan, Mexico, Spain and the Middle East also performed particularly well, as did some smaller and newer businesses in Europe, Latin America and Asia. However, in Australia, our business experienced a difficult first half.
"As we indicated earlier in the year, we continue to manage our cost base actively, both to take account of market conditions as well as to improve the Group's operating performance. As a result, headcount has reduced by 144 since the start of the year, primarily in operational support staff.
"Our focus remains fixed on our long-term growth and profit objectives. We will continue to invest in our key, high-potential markets, to manage our fee earner headcount actively, reflecting market conditions and to seek out efficiencies to drive down the costs of operational support. Combined, these initiatives will deliver long-term profitable growth for our shareholders.