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Recruiter PageGroup upgrades profits again amid hot labour market

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Recruitment giant PageGroup lifted its profit guidance again after hiring demand continued to surge in the face of global labour shortages.

It was the fourth time the London-listed firm upgraded its profit outlook in the past seven months.

Steve Ingham, chief executive officer of the group, hailed 2021 as a “record year” for the business due to the buoyant hiring market.

The positive update came a day after rival Robert Walters also forecast that its annual profits would beat expectations due to the jump in activity.

PageGroup told shareholders on Wednesday that it posted a gross profit of £246.8 million for the three months to December, rising from a £166 million gross profit in the same period last year.

This helped the business’s overall gross profit for the year rebound to £879.1 million, surpassing its performance in 2019 before the pandemic struck.

The company highlighted that it saw 14.1% profit in growth in its UK business over the period.

Mr Ingham added: “This noticeable improvement in Q4 was seen throughout the group and was achieved despite the backdrop of continued restrictions or lockdowns in many of our markets.

“Given the strength of our performance in December, we now expect (our) 2021 full year operating profit to be marginally in excess of our previous guidance of in the region of £165 million.

“We believe that our strategy of maintaining and investing in our platform throughout the pandemic has been key to us achieving the results we are announcing today.

“This was demonstrated by our investment in experienced hires, as well as continuing with the roll out of technology and innovation.”

However, the chief executive added there continues to be a high degree of economic uncertainty due to Covid-19 and restrictions remain in a number of markets.

Investor sentiment remained cool despite the latest profit upgrade and shares dipped by 0.2% to 633p in early trading.

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