Source - LSE Regulatory
RNS Number : 9353Q
PageGroup plc
03 March 2021
 

 

 

3 March 2021

 

 

Full Year Results for the Year Ended 31 December 2020

 

PageGroup plc ("PageGroup"), the specialist professional recruitment company, announces its full year results for the year ended 31 December 2020.

Financial summary

2020

2019

Change

Change CC*

Revenue

£1,304.8m

£1,653.9m

-21.1%

-20.5%

Gross profit

£610.2m

£855.5m

-28.7%

-28.1%

Operating profit

£17.0m

£146.7m

-88.4%

-90.1%

Profit before tax

£15.5m

£144.2m

-89.2%


Basic earnings per share

-1.8p

32.2p

-105.6%

Diluted earnings per share

-1.8p

32.2p

-105.6%





 

Total dividend per share (excl. special dividend)

-

13.70p

 

Total dividend per share (incl. special dividend)

-

26.43p



 

 

HIGHLIGHTS*

 

·    Focus continues to be on the protection and wellbeing of employees, candidates and clients

·    Continue to protect and invest in the platform to take advantage of the recovery

·    Group gross profit down 28.1% to £610.2m, gross profit per fee earner down 18.7% to £113.3k (2019: £140.4k)

·    Conversion rate** decreased to 2.8% (2019: 17.1%)

·    Effective tax rate of 136.9% (2019: 28.3%) driven by profit mix and treatment of losses

·    Fee earner headcount reduced by a net 882 (15%) for the year, leavers partially offset by the hiring of c. 400 experienced fee earners

·    Total headcount reduced by a net 1,004 (13%) for the year, closing headcount of 6,694

·    Strong cash position of £166m (2019: £97.8m)

·    UK Government Furlough income of £3.4m to be repaid in 2021

 

 

 

*At constant currency - all growth rates in constant currency at prior year rates unless otherwise stated

**Operating profit as a percentage of gross profit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commenting, Steve Ingham, Chief Executive Officer, said:

 

"2020 was an unprecedented year, with all of our markets impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus throughout has been the protection and wellbeing of our employees, candidates and clients, whilst progressing our strategy of investment in our platform to take advantage of the recovery. Our people made significant sacrifices, predominantly in Q2, with many of our people taking 20% salary cuts or working four day weeks, and demonstrated incredible resilience during the last 12 months. I am incredibly proud of the reaction of our staff in what continues to be extraordinary times.

 

"We have a resilient highly diversified business model, with focus areas such as Technology, Digital, Healthcare and Life Sciences delivering robust results during the pandemic. Our Interim business in Germany and the Nikkei domestic market business in Japan both performed particularly well, with Interim up 6% and Nikkei up 47% for the year. In total, we invested in the recruitment of around 400 experienced hires, largely into these growing disciplines and markets in 2020 and we will continue to invest in these businesses going forward. We have also continued to invest in our new operating system, Customer Connect, with around a third of our fee earners now live on the system. Investments in innovations also continued, such as in Page Insights, our data intelligence tool, which provides rich information for our clients and consultants on hiring trends by specialism and geography, using internal and external data.

 

"The Group ended the year with a strong cash position of £166m. As a result, we will repay the £3.4m income received in the UK under the Furlough scheme. We will seek to return to our policy of Shareholder returns as market conditions improve and we get more clarity over the trading outlook.

 

"As we enter 2021, there remains a high degree of global macro-economic uncertainty in many of our markets, with COVID-19 still a significant global issue and a number of the Group's markets in lockdown. However, in the UK we are encouraged that the Brexit deal and the recent Government announcements about lockdown easing have provided a degree of clarity. We remain confident in our strategy of maintaining our platform and continuing to invest carefully in headcount, as well as continuing to roll-out new technology and innovation. We are the clear leader in many of our markets, with a highly experienced senior management team, which, we believe, positions us well to take advantage of opportunities to grow and improve our business. We have maintained our focus on our long-term vision for the Group to drive progress towards our strategic goals."

 

Enquiries:

 

PageGroup plc

+44 (0) 20 3077 8172

Steve Ingham, Chief Executive Officer


Kelvin Stagg, Chief Financial Officer




FTI Consulting

+44 (0) 20 3727 1340

Richard Mountain/Susanne Yule


The Company will host a conference call and presentation for analysts and investors at 9:00am today. The live presentation can be viewed by following the link:

https://www.investis-live.com/pagegroup/60127c6249aa2a0e0097e72d/mslf 

Please use the following dial-in numbers to join the conference:

United Kingdom (Local)          020 3936 2999

All other locations                    +44 20 3936 2999

Please quote the access code 40 18 68 to gain access to the call

The presentation and recording to accompany the call will be available on the Company's website later today at:

https://www.page.com/investors/investor-library.aspx

MANAGEMENT REPORT

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT

This Management Report has been prepared solely to provide additional information to shareholders to assess the Group's strategies and the potential for those strategies to succeed.

 

This Management Report contains certain forward-looking statements. These statements are made by the Directors in good faith based on the information available to them up to the time of their approval of this report and such statements should be treated with caution due to the inherent uncertainties, including both economic and business risk factors, underlying any such forward looking information.

 

GROUP STRATEGY

At PageGroup we have a clear strategic vision via our four brands of Page Executive, Michael Page, Page Personnel and Page Outsourcing. We aim to be the leading specialist recruiter in each of the markets in which we operate. We have sought to achieve this by developing a significant market presence in major global economies, as well as targeting new markets where we see the greatest potential for long-term gross profit growth at attractive conversion rates. 

 

We offer our services across a broad range of disciplines and specialisms, solely within the professional recruitment market. Our origins are in permanent recruitment, but around a quarter of our gross profit is in temporary placements, where local culture and market conditions allow. We focus on opportunities where our industry and market expertise can set us apart from our competition. This enables us to offer a premium service that is valued by clients and attracts the highest calibre of candidates.

 

Our mix of permanent to temporary recruitment reflects the balance of our business mix, both in terms of brands, where Michael Page, our largest brand, and Page Executive operating at higher salary levels, have a naturally higher level of permanent recruitment, as well as our geographic mix. We are market leaders in regions such as Latin America, Greater China and South East Asia, where we are also seeing the emergence of the white-collar temporary recruitment market.

 

PageGroup is focused on delivering against three key objectives to achieve its strategic vision and provide sustainable financial returns. These are: 1) to look for organic, high-margin and diversified growth; 2) to position the business to be scalable, efficient and highly flexible to reflect market conditions; and 3) as a people-oriented, organically driven business, to nurture and develop talent and skills which are fundamental to us achieving long-term sustainable growth.

 

We therefore invest significantly in our people, as the recruitment, retention, succession and development of the best talent available is central to our ability to grow the business and to manage our resources through economic cycles. Investment in the business has been focused on developing the long-term sustainability of the business and is supported by significant balance sheet strength and cash flow generation. 

 

Organic, scalable growth

Our strategy is to grow organically, achieved by drawing upon the skill and experience of proven PageGroup management, ensuring we have the best and most experienced home-grown talent in each key role. Our team-based structure and profit share business model is highly scalable. The small size of our specialist teams means we can increase headcount rapidly to achieve growth when market conditions are favourable.

 

Conversely, when market conditions tighten, these entrepreneurial, profit-sharing teams reduce in size, largely through natural attrition. Consequently, our cost base contracts in downturns. Our strategy for organic growth has served the business well over the 44 years since its inception and we believe it will continue to do so. We have grown from a small, single-discipline recruitment company operating in one country to a large multidiscipline, multinational business, operating in 37 countries represented by our four key brands of Page Executive, Michael Page, Page Personnel and Page Outsourcing.

 

Diversification by region and discipline

Our strategy is to expand and diversify the Group by industry sectors, professional disciplines, geography and level of focus, be it Page Executive, Michael Page, Page Personnel or Page Outsourcing, with the objective of being the leading specialist recruitment consultancy in each of our chosen markets.

 

The Group has designated five markets as large, high potential markets. These are markets that are typically under-developed in terms of recruitment, but where we have a successful track record and confidence in their ability to successfully scale operations. The five large, high potential markets are Germany, Greater China, Latin America, South East Asia and the US. India and Japan are two markets which have the potential to be classified in this category in the future.

 

We have also designated three disciplines as being high potential disciplines, namely Healthcare & Life Sciences, Technology and Digital.

 

As recruitment is a cyclical business, impacted significantly by the strength of economies, diversification is an important element of our strategy as it reduces our dependency on individual businesses or markets, thereby increasing the resilience of the Group. This strategy is pursued entirely through the organic growth of existing and new teams, offices, disciplines and countries, maintaining a consistent team and meritocratic culture as we grow.

 

Talent and skills development

We recognise that it is our people who are at the heart of everything we do, particularly as an organically grown business where ensuring we have a talent pool with experience through economic cycles and across both geographies and disciplines is critical. Investing in our people is, therefore, a vital element of our strategy. We seek to find the highest calibre staff from a diverse range of backgrounds and then do our very best to retain them through offering a fulfilling career and an attractive working environment. 

 

This includes a team-based structure, a profit share business model and continuous training and career development, often internationally. Our strong track record of internal career moves and promotion from within means that people who join us know that they could be our future senior managers and Main Board Directors.

 

Diversity and inclusion are key to our culture and the success of our business. It is not just an item on our to-do list, it's an inherent part of our culture and our business. We are a people business - the people who work here, the companies we do business with, the candidates whose lives we change for the better on a daily basis, and the communities and individuals we help as we give back to others. Understanding the values and cultural differences of our employees helps them reach their potential as we build a stronger, more successful business. A business which reflects society and the clients and candidates whose lives we change.

 

Sustainable growth

When we invest in a new business, be it a new country, a new office or a new discipline, we do so for the long term. Our organic and team-based business model allows us to grow strongly when market conditions are favourable, enabling us to increase our fee earner headcount investment rapidly. Conversely, downturns in the general economy of a country or in specific industries will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the recruitment market. However, it has been our practice in the past, and remains our intention, to maintain our presence in our chosen markets through these downturns, while closely controlling our cost base. In this way, we can retain our highly capable management teams in whom we have invested. Normally, we find that we gain market share during downturns, which positions our business for market-leading rates of growth when the economy improves. Pursuing this approach means that we carry spare capacity during downturns, which can have a negative effect on profitability in the short term. A strong balance sheet is, therefore, essential to support the business at these times.

 

Despite COVID-19, 2020 has given us the opportunity to reflect on our approach to sustainability. This has allowed us to broaden the meaning of sustainability and taking a deep dive into at each element of ESG. From an environmental perspective, during 2020 we reduced our reported carbon emissions by c. 26%. We have also for the first time offset our carbon emissions in full.  We will continue to reduce our carbon emissions by converting traditional electricity to renewable sources, reducing waste and reducing business travel. 

 

In addition, we have joined the UN Global Compact. The UN Global Compact provides a framework for developing a more sustainable and responsible business. We are excited to be joining the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world. This is the first in a series of sustainability initiatives to be released over the course of 2021.

 

 

Our strategic priorities comprise the following:

 

·    increase the scale and diversification of PageGroup by organically growing existing and new teams, offices, disciplines, brands and countries;

·    manage the business with a team and meritocratic culture, while delivering a consistent and high-quality client and candidate experience;

·    invest through cycles in our Large, High Potential markets of Germany, Greater China, Latin America, South East Asia and the US to achieve scale and a market leading position;

·    invest through cycles in our High Potential disciplines of Technology, Digital and Healthcare & Life Sciences;

·    manage our fee earner headcount in all other markets to reflect prevailing market conditions, by adding selectively to geographies and disciplines where there is positive growth momentum, while reducing headcount where the outlook for growth or fee earner productivity is weak;

·    focus on operational support consistency; and

·    focus on succession planning and international career paths to encourage retention and development of key staff.

The main factors that could affect the business and the financial results are described in the "Principal Risks and Uncertainties" section in the PageGroup plc 2020 Annual Report and Accounts, which will be available to shareholders in April 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GROUP RESULTS  

GROSS PROFIT


Reported

CC

Year-on-year

% of Group

2020 (£m)

2019 (£m)

%

%

EMEA

52%

319.4

418.3

-23.7%

-24.4%

Asia Pacific

20%

121.1

163.3

-25.8%

-25.1%

Americas

15%

88.8

138.8

-36.0%

-31.4%

UK

13%

80.9

135.1

-40.0%

-40.0%

Total

100%

610.2

855.5

-28.7%

-28.1%







Permanent

72%

436.7

643.8

-32.2%

-31.5%

Temporary

28%

173.5

211.7

-18.0%

-17.8%

 

At constant exchange rates, Group revenue decreased 20.5% and gross profit decreased 28.1% for the year ended 31 December 2020. Gross profit per fee earner decreased 18.7% to £113.3k (2019: £140.4k). At reported rates, revenue decreased 21.1% to £1,304.8m (2019: £1,653.9m) and gross profit decreased 28.7% to £610.2m (2019: £855.5m).

 

The Group's revenue mix between permanent and temporary placements was 34:66 (2019: 39:61) and for gross profit was 72:28 (2019: 75:25). Revenue from temporary placements comprises the salaries of those placed, together with the margin charged. This margin on temporary placements decreased slightly to 20.1% in 2020 (2019: 21.1%). Overall, pricing remained relatively stable across all regions, although a weaker pricing environment was experienced in markets more impacted by COVID-19.

 

In our Large, High Potential markets category, now representing 36% of the Group, gross profit decreased 24.8% in constant currencies to £218.2m. This category performed slightly better than the rest of the Group, primarily due to the resilience of our business in Germany.  

 

Total Group headcount decreased by 1,004 in the year to 6,694. This comprised a net decrease of 882 fee earners (-14.6%) and a decrease of 122 operational support staff (-7.3%). The reduction in our fee earner headcount was a response to the tough macro-economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The leavers were largely recent joiners who were therefore very inexperienced in recruitment, or those on performance review. We have continued to invest in our business model, with approaching 400 experienced fee earners added to the Group during the year. This additional headcount was primarily into our strategic areas of investment, as well as those areas which have been more resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this reduction in net fee earner headcount, our fee earner to operational support staff ratio was 77:23 (2019: 78:22). In total, administrative expenses decreased 16.3% to £593.2m (2019: £708.8m).

 

OPERATING PROFIT AND CONVERSION RATES

 

The Group's organic growth model and profit-based team bonus ensures cost control remains tight. Approximately three-quarters of costs were employee related, including wages, bonuses, share-based long-term incentives, and training & relocation costs.

 

Depreciation and amortisation for the year totalled £61.8m (2019: £57.5m). Amortisation relating to our operating system, PRS, was £7.5m (2019: £6.2m), which is now concluded. 

 

Throughout this pandemic, all our people have pulled together in these difficult times. In the second quarter, employees agreed to reduced working weeks or placement onto government assistance schemes. 450 of our most senior employees, including the Main and Executive Boards, agreed to salary cuts of 20%. This, in addition to access to government assistance schemes, reduced travel, and reduced client and candidate entertaining, enabled us to achieve a reduction in our cost base of 21% in Q2, 15% in Q3 and 10% in Q4 compared to March. We are thankful to all our people who agreed to take salary reductions, work four-day weeks or make other sacrifices for the long-term benefit of the Group during this period.

 

The Group's conversion rate for the year of 2.8% was a decline from 17.1% in 2019. This was due to the sharp decrease in gross profit as a result of COVID-19, partly mitigated by the reduction in headcount and cost saving initiatives.

 

Conversion rates were impacted in all of the Group's regions. EMEA was the Group's most resilient region, with a conversion rate of 9.6%. Asia Pacific also remained profitable, with conditions improving towards the end of the year and conversion was 3.1% compared to 12.1% in 2019. The UK and the Americas were most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with conversion rates of          -12.8% and -7.9% respectively.

 

A net interest charge of £1.5m (2019: £2.4m) was primarily due to an IFRS 16 interest charge of £1.7m. Excluding IFRS 16, the net interest income of £0.2m reflected interest income, albeit in the continued low interest rate environment, partially offset by borrowing facility charges.

 

Earnings per share and dividends

In 2020, basic and diluted earnings per share both decreased to -1.8p (2019: 32.2p), as a result of the reduction in profit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an increase in the effective tax rate.

 

The Group's strategy is to operate a policy of financing the activities and development of the Group from our retained earnings and to maintain a strong balance sheet position. We first use our cash to satisfy our operational and investment requirements and to hedge our liabilities under the Group's share plans. We then review our liquidity over and above these requirements to make returns to shareholders, firstly by way of an ordinary dividend.

 

Our policy is to grow this ordinary dividend over the course of the economic cycle, in line with our long-term growth rate. We believe this will enable us to sustain the level of ordinary dividend payments during a downturn as well as to increase it during more prosperous times.

 

Cash generated in excess of these first two priorities will be returned to shareholders through supplementary returns, using special dividends or share buybacks.

 

In 2020, in line with many of its peers, PageGroup announced the temporary suspension of its dividend policy. This was against a backdrop of unprecedented global economic disruption and significant near-term uncertainty caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 and designed to preserve liquidity. We will seek to restart our dividend programme as market conditions improve and greater clarity over the trading outlook is restored.

 

Cash flow and balance sheet

Cash flow in the year was strong, with £169.0m (2019: £194.1m) generated from operations. The closing cash balance was £166.0m at 31 December 2020 (2019: £97.8m). The significant increase in the cash balance compared to 2019 was primarily due to the unwind of working capital of £84.6m, deferral of c. £11m of tax payments and a strong focus on cash collection.

 

Several actions were taken during the year to protect liquidity and ensure a strong cash flow throughout. We deferred tax payments and utilised government support schemes where available, as well as ensuring the Group had access to additional liquidity, should this be required, as described below. We actively protected against potential downsides from the pandemic, despite remaining confident in our business model throughout. Due to the continued strong cash position, we will now be repaying the UK Government Furlough income of £3.4m.

 

PageGroup maintains a Confidential Invoice Facility with HSBC whereby the Group has the option to discount receivables in order to advance cash. The Group also has a Revolving Credit Facility with BBVA, expiring in 2022, with a total drawable amount of £30m. We have agreed a covenant waiver to the end of the agreement on this facility, to ensure we retain access to these funds should they be required. Neither of these facilities were in use as at 31 December. These facilities are used on an ad hoc basis to fund any major Group GBP cash outflows. The Group also gained access to the Bank of England Covid Corporate Finance Facility, with a limit of £300m, which has not been drawn against. We do not currently expect to draw down on this facility.

 

Income tax paid in the year was £31.7m (2019: £37.0m) and net capital expenditure in 2020 was £21.7m (2019: £24.6m). Spending on software was broadly flat on 2019 and was primarily related to the roll out of our new operating system, Customer Connect. Spending on property, plant and equipment decreased, with no significant office moves in the year, as well as a reduction in our fee earner headcount.

Due to the suspension of our dividend policy, no dividend payments were made during 2020 (2019: £83.5m). The lower share price in 2020 meant that there was a decrease in cash receipts from share option exercises, with £0.4m in 2020, compared to £7.2m in 2019. In 2020, £14.4m (2019: £10.0m) was also spent on the purchase of shares by the Employee Benefit Trust to satisfy future committed obligations under our employee share plans.

 

The most significant item in our balance sheet was trade receivables, which amounted to £186.1m at 31 December 2020 (2019: £271.1m), comprising permanent fees invoiced and salaries and fees invoiced in the temporary placement business, but not yet paid. Day's sales in debtors decreased due to the significant unwind of our debtor book.

 

EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA (EMEA)

EMEA is the Group's largest region, contributing 52% of the Group's gross profit in the year. With operations in 17 countries, PageGroup has a strong presence in the majority of EMEA markets and is the clear leader in specialist permanent recruitment in the two largest, France and Germany.  Across the region, permanent placements accounted for 66% and temporary placements 34% of gross profit.

 

The region includes four of our Large, Proven markets, France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, across which there is a broad range of competition. EMEA also includes Germany, one of the Group's Large, High Potential markets, which has low penetration rates (markets where less than 30% of recruitment is outsourced) and significant growth potential, particularly in temporary recruitment. In addition, there are markets such as Poland, Turkey and Africa, which are less developed, with limited competition, but are increasingly looking for professional recruitment services.

 

EMEA 

£m

Growth rates

(52% of Group in 2020)

2020

2019

Reported

CC

Gross Profit

319.4

418.3

-23.7%

-24.4%

Operating Profit

30.6

90.3

-66.1%

-66.5%

Conversion Rate (%)

9.6%

21.6%



 

In constant currencies, revenue decreased 17.7% on 2019 and gross profit decreased 24.4%. In reported rates, revenue in the region was down 16.8% to £717.3m (2019: 861.8m) and gross profit decreased 23.7% to £319.4m (2019: £418.3m).

 

Trading conditions were impacted by COVID-19 throughout the region, with many countries again entering lockdown at the end of the year. Our largest businesses in the region, France and Germany, together representing over half of the region by gross profit, declined 28% and 11%, respectively. Michael Page Interim in Germany, which is mainly focused on technology, was one of our most resilient businesses during the pandemic, growing 6% overall for the year. In our other European markets, Benelux was down 24%, Southern Europe down 28% with Italy and Spain down 28% and 29%, respectively. The Middle East and Africa, which represented 3% of the region, declined 30%.

 

2020 operating profit decreased 66.1% to £30.6m (2019: £90.3m), a conversion rate of 9.6% (2019: 21.6%). The region was the most resilient to the COVID-19 pandemic and had the highest conversion rate in the Group.  Headcount across the region decreased by 338 (-10.2%) to 2,979 at the end of 2020 (2019: 3,317).

 

ASIA PACIFIC

Asia Pacific represented 20% of the Group's gross profit in 2020, with 79% of the region being Asia and 21% Australasia. Other than in the financial centres of Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, the Asian market is generally highly under-developed and offers attractive opportunities in both international and domestic markets at good conversion rates.  Two of our Large, High Potential markets, Greater China and South East Asia, are in this region. With a highly experienced management team, approaching 1,200 staff and limited competition, the size of the opportunity in Asia is significant. Across Asia, driven by cultural attitudes towards white collar temporary recruitment, permanent placements accounted for 84% and temporary placements 16% of gross profit.  

 

Australia, one of our Large, Proven markets, is a mature, well-developed and highly competitive recruitment market. PageGroup has a meaningful presence in permanent recruitment in the majority of the professional disciplines and major cities in Australia. Page Personnel has a growing presence and significant potential to expand and grow market share.

 

 

ASIA PACIFIC 

£m

Growth rates

(20% of Group in 2020)

2020

2019

Reported

CC

Gross Profit

121.1

163.3

-25.8%

-25.1%

Operating Profit

3.8

19.8

-80.9%

-81.9%

Conversion Rate (%)

3.1%

12.1%



 

In Asia Pacific, in constant currencies, revenue decreased 20.1% and gross profit decreased by 25.1%. In reported rates, revenue decreased 21.0% to £216.0m (2019: £273.4m) and gross profit decreased 25.8% to £121.1m (2019: £163.3m).

 

In Asia, representing 16% of the Group, gross profit declined 22%. Greater China declined 27%, with Hong Kong down 46%. Conditions improved as the year progressed, with Mainland China growing 15% in December and social unrest easing in Hong Kong. South East Asia was down 23% on the prior year, with Singapore down 28%. We opened in the Philippines during the year, our sixth country in this Large, High Potential market. India, where we have around 150 fee earners, declined 15%. Japan was down 9% for the year, though our Nikkei market business delivered a record year, up 47%. Australia declined 35%.

 

Operating profit decreased 80.9% to £3.8m (2019: £19.8m), with the conversion rate down at 3.1% (2019: 12.1%). The region remained profitable, with conditions improving towards the end of the year. Headcount across the region declined 294 (-17.5%), ending the year at 1,385 (2019: 1,679).

 

THE AMERICAS

The Americas represented 15% of the Group's gross profit in 2020, being North America (64% of the region) and Latin America (36% of the region). The US and Latin America are two of the Large, High Potential markets in our growth strategy. The US, where we have eight offices, has a well-developed recruitment industry, but in many disciplines, especially technical, there is limited national competition of any scale.  PageGroup's breadth of professional specialisms and geographic reach is uncommon and provides a competitive advantage. 

 

Latin America is a highly under-developed region, where PageGroup enjoys the market leading position with around 700 employees in seven countries. There are few international competitors and none with regional scale.  Across the Americas, permanent placements accounted for 84% of gross profit and temporary placements 16%.

 

AMERICAS

£m

Growth rates

(15% of Group in 2020)

2020

2019

Reported

CC

Gross Profit

88.8

138.8

-36.0%

-31.4%

Operating Profit

-7.0

19.3

-136.4%

-147.0%

Conversion Rate (%)

-7.9%

13.9%



  

In constant currencies, revenue decreased by 17.5% and gross profit decreased by 31.4%. In reported rates, revenue decreased by 24.8% to £154.3m (2019: £205.1m) while gross profit decreased 36.0% to £88.8m (2019: £138.8m).

 

In North America, gross profit decreased by 30% in constant currencies. The US declined 30%, with tough trading conditions due to COVID-19, as well as political uncertainty and social unrest. Conditions were particularly tough within our largest discipline, Construction, with sites closed for large periods of the year.

 

In Latin America, gross profit was down 33% year-on-year in constant currencies. The region has been one of the most impacted by COVID-19, having received little governmental support. Brazil was down 28%, Mexico down 43%, with the other five countries in the region down 28%, collectively.

 

Driven by our strategy of maintaining our trading platform in these two Large, High Potential markets, operating profit decreased to -£7.0m (2019: £19.3m), with a conversion rate of -7.9% (2019: 13.9%). Headcount across the region decreased by 221 (-16.1%) in 2020 to 1,155 (2019: 1,376).

 

UNITED KINGDOM

The UK represented 13% of the Group's gross profit in 2020, operating from 25 offices covering all major cities. It is a mature, highly competitive and sophisticated market with the majority of vacant positions being outsourced to recruitment firms. PageGroup has a market leading presence in permanent recruitment across the UK and a growing presence in temporary recruitment. In the UK, permanent placements accounted for 63% and temporary placements 37% of gross profit.

 

The UK business operates under all four of our brands, with representation in 13 specialist disciplines via the Michael Page brand. There remains opportunity to roll-out new discipline businesses under the lower salary-level Page Personnel brand, which now represents 24% of UK gross profit.

 

UK 

£m


(13% of Group in 2020)

2020

2019

 Growth rate

Gross Profit

80.9

135.1

-40.0%

Operating Profit

-10.3

17.3

-159.9%

Conversion Rate (%)

-12.8%

12.8%


 

In the UK, revenue decreased 30.7% to £217.3m (2019: £313.6m) and gross profit declined         40.0% to £80.9m (2019: £135.1m).

 

The UK was significantly impacted by COVID-19, as well as Brexit related uncertainty. The Brexit deal has provided a degree of clarity. Page Personnel declined 44% and Michael Page, which is focused on more senior opportunities, declined 39%.

 

Due to this sharp decline in gross profit, operating profit was down 159.9% to -£10.3m, a conversion rate of -12.8%.

 

Headcount decreased 11.4% to 1,175 at the end of December 2020 (2019: 1,326). Our fee earner headcount reduced by 105 (11.4%) in response to the challenging trading conditions seen throughout the year.

 

OTHER FINANCIAL ITEMS

 

Foreign exchange

 

Foreign exchange had a marginal impact on the Group's results for the year, decreasing revenue by c. £9m, gross profit by c. £5m and increasing operating profit by c. £2m.

 

Taxation

 

The tax charge for the year was £21.3m (2019: £40.8m). This represented an effective tax rate of 136.9% (2019: 28.3%). A summary is shown below.

 

Reconciliation of effective tax rate

2020

£'000

%

2019

£'000

%

Profit before taxation

15,544


144,245


Profit before tax multiplied by the standard rate of corporation tax in the UK

2,952

19.0

27,406

19.0

Effects of:





Disallowable items and other permanent differences

1,947

12.5

2,094

1.5

Unrelieved overseas losses

1,954

12.5

2,292

1.6

Derecognition/(recognition) of overseas losses and other tax attributes

1,525

9.8

(35)

0

Other tax movements

694

4.5

(26)

0

Higher tax rates on overseas earnings

2,038

13.1

4,239

2.9

Other tax overseas

6,855

44.1

6,501

4.5

Movement of rate difference

662

4.3

(265)

(0.2)

Adjustments to tax charge in respect of prior periods

2,659

17.1

(1,406)

(1.0)

Tax expense and effective rate for the year

21,286

136.9

40,800

28.3

 

We have generated profits in overseas countries which have higher rates and we have been subject to additional taxes on profits which have contributed 61.7% to the tax rate in 2020.

 

Losses arose in the year that we could not recognise due to the requirement to have profits against which to offset in the foreseeable future. In addition, we wrote off deferred tax assets on losses which expired in the period as well as deferred tax assets on deductible temporary differences and losses where we do not consider it probable that there will be taxable profits to support their recovery in future periods. Together, these two categories increased the tax rate by 22.3%.

 

Disallowable and other permanent differences are broadly in line with 2019, though with the significant reduction in PBT, the impact on the rate has been much greater. Similarly to 2019, adjustments in respect of prior periods were one-off in nature, and again have a higher impact on the rate due to the lower PBT in 2020. Finally there have been changes to the substantively enacted tax rates which apply to the calculation of deferred tax, predominately in the UK (moving from 17% to 19%).  Collectively, these three categories increased the tax rate by 33.9%. 

 

These factors add to the basic UK rate of 19% to give the total effective tax rate of 136.9%.  

 

The tax charge for the year reflects the Group's tax strategy, which is aligned to business goals.  It is PageGroup's policy to pay its fair share of taxes in the countries in which it operates and deal with its tax affairs in a straightforward, open and honest manner.  The Group's tax strategy is set out in detail on our website in the Investor section under "Responsibilities".

                                                                                                         

Share options and share repurchases

At the beginning of 2020 the Group had 10.3m share options outstanding, of which 4.2m had vested, but had not been exercised. During the year, options were granted over 1.8m shares under the Group's share option plans. Options were exercised over 0.1m shares, generating £0.4m in cash, and options lapsed over 0.7m shares. At the end of 2020, options remained outstanding over 11.4m shares, of which 5.3m had vested, but had not been exercised. During 2020, 3.8m shares were purchased for the Group's Employee Benefit Trust, and no shares were cancelled (2019: 2.2m shares were purchased and no shares were cancelled).

 

 

Audit tender

 

Following the competitive tender process during the year, the Audit Committee has recommended, and the Board has approved the retaining of Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as the Company's auditor. The Board will propose the re-appointment of EY as external auditors for the year ending 31 December 2021 at the Company's Annual General Meeting in June 2021.

 

 

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs)

 

KPI

Definition, method of calculation and analysis

Financial

 

Gross profit growth

How measured: Gross profit growth represents revenue less cost of sales expressed as the percentage change over the prior year. It consists principally of placement fees for permanent candidates and the margin earned on the placement of temporary candidates.

Why it's important: This metric indicates the degree of income growth in the business. It can be impacted significantly by foreign exchange movements in our international markets. Consequently, we look at both reported and constant currency metrics.

How we performed in 2020: Gross profit decreased 28.1% in constant currencies and 28.7% in reported rates (2019: +5.0% in both constant currencies and reported rates). This was due to macro-economic uncertainty as well as rolling lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Relevant strategic objective: Organic growth

Gross profit diversification

How measured: Total gross profit from: a) geographic regions outside the UK; and b) disciplines outside of Accounting & Financial Services, each expressed as a percentage of total gross profit.

Why it's important: These percentages give an indication of how the business has diversified its revenue streams away from its historical concentrations in the UK and from the Accounting & Financial Services disciplines.

How we performed in 2020: Geographies: the percentage increased to 86.7% from 84.2% in 2019, largely as a result of the UK being impacted most severely by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Disciplines: the percentage was broadly flat at 65.2% (2019: 65.1%), with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the Group's operations in all disciplines.

Relevant strategic objective: Diversification

Ratio of gross profit generated from permanent and temporary placements

How measured: Gross profit from each type of placement expressed as a percentage of total gross profit.

Why it's important: This ratio reflects both the current stage of the economic cycle and our geographic spread, as a number of countries culturally have minimal white collar temporary roles. It gives a guide as to the operational gearing potential in the business, which is significantly greater for permanent recruitment.

How we performed in 2020: The ratio decreased to 72:28 (2019: 75:25). As is usually the case in downturns, permanent recruitment is hit harder when trading conditions deteriorate. Temporary and Contracting recruitment was more resilient to the tougher trading conditions, particularly in disciplines such as Technology. 

 

Relevant strategic objective: Diversification

Basic earnings per share (EPS)

How measured: Profit for the year attributable to the Group's equity shareholders, divided by the weighted average number of shares in issue during the year.

Why it's important: This measures the underlying profitability of the Group and the progress made against the prior year.

How we performed in 2020: The Group saw a -105.6% fall in Basic EPS to -1.8p. This is driven by the significant reduction in profits caused by the challenging trading conditions due to COVID-19 and the resultant high effective tax rate.

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth

Cash

How measured: Cash and short-term deposits

Why it's important: The level of cash reflects our cash generation and conversion capabilities and our success in managing our working capital. It determines our ability to reinvest in the business, to return cash to shareholders and to ensure we remain financially robust through cycles.

How we performed in 2020: Cash increased to £166.0m (2019: £97.8m). The significant increase in the cash balance compared to 2019 was primarily due to the unwind of working capital of £84.6m, deferral of c. £11m of tax payments and a strong focus on cash collection.

 

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth

Strategic

Fee earner headcount growth

How measured: Number of fee earners and directors involved in revenue-generating activities at the year end, expressed as the percentage change compared to the prior year.

Why it's important: Growth in fee earners is a guide to our confidence in the business and macro-economic outlook, as it reflects our expectations as to the level of future demand for our services above the existing capacity currently within the business.

How we performed in 2020: Net fee earner headcount declined by 882, or -14.6% in the year, resulting in 5,145 fee earners at the end of the year. We have continued to invest in certain areas of the Group such as Technology, Contracting, Healthcare & Life Sciences and Digital, adding nearly 400 experienced fee earners to the Group in the year.   

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth

Gross profit per fee earner

How measured: Gross profit divided by the average number of fee-generating staff, calculated on a rolling monthly average basis.

Why it's important: This is our indicator of productivity, which is affected by levels of activity in the market, capacity within the business and the number of recently hired fee earners who are not yet at full productivity. Currency movements can also impact this figure.

How we performed in 2020: Productivity decreased 18.7% in constant currencies to £113.3k (2019: £140.4k). During the lockdowns, our fee earners saw a significant reduction in activity, which together with our strategy of maintaining our platform of experienced consultants to take market share when markets recover, resulted in a short-term drop in productivity.  

 

Relevant strategic objective: Organic growth

Fee earner: support staff headcount ratio

How measured: The percentage of fee earners compared to operational support staff at the year end, expressed as a ratio.

Why it's important: This reflects the operational efficiency in the business in terms of our ability to grow the revenue-generating platform at a faster rate than the staff needed to support this growth.

How we performed in 2020: The ratio decreased to 77:23 from 78:22 in 2019. This was driven by a decline in our fee earner headcount of 882, in response to the more challenging trading conditions in many of our markets. Our operational support staff headcount decreased by 122.

 

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth

Conversion rate

How measured: Operating profit (EBIT) expressed as a percentage of gross profit.

Why it's important: This reflects the level of fee-earner productivity and the Group's effectiveness at controlling costs in the business, together with the degree of investment being made for future growth.

How we performed in 2020: The Group's conversion rate decreased to 2.8% (2019: 17.1%) due to the sharp decrease in gross profit as a result of COVID-19, partly mitigated by the reduction in headcount and cost saving initiatives.

 

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth

People

Employee engagement index

How measured: A key output of the employee surveys undertaken periodically within the business.

Why it's important: A positive working environment and motivated team helps productivity and encourages retention of key talent within the business.

How we performed in 2020: We recorded an 83% positive score for employee engagement in the latest Employee Survey in 2019. No overall Employee Survey was performed in 2020, but our Working Environment Survey told us that 90% of our people feel our communication tools are effective in providing the information they need; 85% feel part of a team despite not being physically together; 70% see their health and wellbeing as a top priority for the company; and 84% feel proud to work at PageGroup.

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth

Management experience

How measured: Average tenure of front-office management measured as years of service for directors and above.

Why it's important: Experience through the economic cycle and across both geographies and disciplines is critical for an organic cyclical business operating across the globe. Our organic business model relies on an experienced management pool to enable flexibility in resourcing and senior management succession planning.

How we performed in 2020: The average tenure of the Group's management was broadly flat at 12.3 years (2019: 12.5 years).

Relevant strategic objective: Talent and skills development

Total GHG emissions

How measured: Direct and Indirect GHG emissions calculated in line with the UK Government's 2020 DEFRA reporting standards. Principally based on data from a sample of our offices, covering 70% of the Group by headcount, and extrapolated for the Group as a whole.

Why it's important: The emissions calculations look at the CO2e impact of our operations in absolute terms.

How we performed in 2020: Direct GHG emissions relating to the combustion of fuel remained broadly flat at 2,023 tonnes CO2e, while Indirect GHG emissions, through the purchase of energy such as electricity, decreased by 25.7% to 3,264 tonnes.

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth.

Intensity values of GHG emissions

How measured: Intensity values for GHG emissions are based on property and vehicle energy-derived emissions per 1,000 headcount. Headcount is viewed as being the most representative metric for PageGroup's activity levels and is unaffected by issues such as business mix or foreign exchange variations.

Why it's important: Intensity values help to normalise the GHG metrics and place them in the context of the Group's changing business profile, particularly in terms of increases in headcount. It helps to identify where progress has been made on emissions reduction.

How we performed in 2020: Energy-derived emissions were reduced by 4.2% compared with 2019, largely due to a decrease in headcount, along with changes in fuel sources and improvements in office energy efficiencies.

Relevant strategic objective: Sustainable growth.

 

The source of data and calculation methods year-on-year are on a consistent basis, including changes resulting from the use of 2020 DEFRA conversion factors. The movements in KPIs are in line with expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Ingham

Kelvin Stagg

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Financial Officer

2 March 2021


 



 

Consolidated Income Statement

For the year ended 31 December 2020

 







2020



2019





Note


£'000



£'000











Revenue




3


1,304,791



1,653,948

Cost of sales






(694,542)



 (798,498)

Gross profit




3


610,249



855,450

Administrative expenses






(593,221)



(708,781)

Operating profit




3


17,028



146,669

Financial income




4


588



494

Financial expenses




4


(2,072)



(2,918)

Profit before tax




3


15,544



144,245

Income tax expense




5


(21,286)



(40,800)

(Loss)/profit for the year






(5,742)



103,445











Attributable to:










Owners of the parent






(5,742)



103,445











Earnings per share










Basic earnings per share (pence)




8


(1.8)



32.2

Diluted earnings per share (pence)




8


(1.8)



32.2











The above results all relate to continuing operations








 

 

Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income

For the year ended 31 December 2020

 







2020



2019







£'000



£'000











(Loss)/profit for the year






(5,742)



103,445











Other comprehensive income/(loss) for the year








Items that may subsequently be reclassified to profit and loss:
















Currency translation differences






5,945



(14,842)

Loss on hedging instruments






-



(939)











Total comprehensive income for the year



203



87,664











Attributable to:










Owners of the parent






203



87,664

 



 

Consolidated Balance Sheet

As at 31 December 2020

 




2020



2019


Note


£'000



£'000

Non-current assets







Property, plant and equipment

9


26,401



31,925

Right-of-use assets



95,414



120,246

Intangible assets - Goodwill and other intangible



2,097



2,087

                            - Computer software



39,708



36,967

Deferred tax assets



17,688



18,915

Other receivables

10


13,169



15,036




194,477



225,176

Current assets







Trade and other receivables

10


252,476



365,555

Current tax receivable



16,889



13,008

Cash and cash equivalents

12


165,987



97,832




435,352



476,395








Total assets

3


629,829



701,571








Current liabilities







Trade and other payables

11


(184,022)



(215,811)

Lease liabilities



(32,711)



(29,139)

Current tax payable



(12,365)



(19,110)




(229,098)



(264,060)








Net current assets



206,254



212,335








Non-current liabilities







Other payables

11


(12,483)



(11,613)

Lease liabilities



(70,758)



(99,473)

Deferred tax liabilities



(1,589)



(2,038)




(84,830)



(113,124)















Total liabilities

3


(313,928)



(377,184)








Net assets



315,901



324,387








Capital and reserves







Called-up share capital



3,286



3,286

Share premium



99,564



99,507

Capital redemption reserve



932



932

Reserve for shares held in the employee benefit trust



(55,498)



(47,662)

Currency translation reserve



25,320



19,375

Retained earnings



242,297



248,949

Total equity



315,901



324,387

 

 


Consolidated Statement of Changes in Equity

For the year ended 31 December 2020

 











Reserve

















for shares










Called-up




Capital



held in the


Currency








share


Share


redemption



employee


translation


Retained


Total




capital


premium


reserve



benefit trust


reserve


earnings


equity




£'000


£'000


£'000



£'000


£'000


£'000


£'000


















Balance at 31 December 2018 and 1 January 2019


3,284


98,502


932



(50,673)


34,217


232,319


318,581

Loss on adoption of IFRS 16



-


-


-



-


-


(1,450)


(1,450)

Balance at 1 January 2019 (restated)



3,284


98,502


932



(50,673)


34,217


230,869


317,131

Currency translation differences



-


-


-



-


(14,842)


-


(14,842)

Net expense recognised directly in equity



-


-


-



-


(14,842)


-


(14,842)

Loss on hedging instruments



-


-


-



-


-


(939)


(939)

Profit for the year ended 31 December 2019


-


-


-



-


-


103,445


103,445

Total comprehensive (loss)/income for the year


-


-


-



-


(14,842)


102,506


87,664

Purchase of shares held in employee benefit trust


-


-


-



(10,000)


-


-


(10,000)

Exercise of share plans



2


1,005


-



-


-


6,236


7,243

Transfer from reserve for shares held in the employee benefit trust


-


-


-



13,011


-


(13,011)


-

Credit in respect of share schemes



-


-


-



-


-


5,790


5,790

Credit in respect of tax on share schemes



-


-


-



-


-


28


28

Dividends



-


-


-



-


-


(83,469)


(83,469)




2


1,005


-



3,011


-


(84,426)


(80,408)

Balance at 31 December 2019 and 1 January 2020


3,286


99,507


932



(47,662)


19,375


248,949


324,387


















Currency translation differences



-


-


-



-


5,945


-


5,945

Net income recognised directly in equity



-


-


-



-


5,945


-


5,945

Loss for the year ended 31 December 2020


-


-


-



-


-


(5,742)


(5,742)

Total comprehensive income/(loss) for the year


-


-


-



-


5,945


(5,742)


203

Purchase of shares held in employee benefit trust


-


-


-



(14,369)


-


-


(14,369)

Exercise of share plans



-


57


-



-


-


330


387

Transfer from reserve for shares held in the employee benefit trust


-


-


-



6,533


-


(6,533)


-

Credit in respect of share schemes



-


-


-



-


-


5,275


5,275

Credit in respect of tax on share schemes



-


-


-



-


-


18


18




-


57


-



(7,836)


-


(910)


(8,689)


















Balance at 31 December 2020



3,286


99,564


932



(55,498)


25,320


242,297


315,901


Condensed Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows

For the year ended 31 December 2020

 















2019




Note


£'000


£'000









Profit before tax



15,544


144,245

Depreciation and amortisation charges



61,782


57,500

Loss on sale of property, plant and equipment, and computer software



262


21

Share scheme charges



5,275


5,790

Net finance costs



1,484


2,424

Operating cash flow before changes in working capital



84,347


209,980

Decrease/(Increase) in receivables



124,370


(37,934)

(Decrease)/Increase in payables



(39,760)


22,036

Cash generated from operations



168,957


194,082

Income tax paid



(31,747)


(36,960)

Net cash from operating activities



137,210


157,122









Cash flows from investing activities






Purchases of property, plant and equipment



(4,892)


(9,615)

Purchases of intangible assets



(17,770)


(16,735)

Proceeds from the sale of property, plant and equipment, and computer software



918


1,740

Interest received



588


494

Net cash used in investing activities



(21,156)


(24,116)









Cash flows from financing activities






Dividends paid



-


(83,469)

Interest paid



(413)


(953)

Lease liability principal repayment



(39,234)


(38,215)

Issue of own shares for the exercise of options



387


7,243

Purchase of shares into the employee benefit trust



(14,369)


(10,000)

Net cash used in financing activities



(53,629)


(125,394)









Net increase in cash and cash equivalents



62,425


7,612

Cash and cash equivalents at the beginning of the year



97,832


97,673

Exchange gain/(loss) on cash and cash equivalents



5,730


(7,453)

Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the year

12


165,987


97,832

 



 

Notes to the consolidated preliminary results

For the year ended 31 December 2020

 

 

1.         Corporate information

 

PageGroup plc (the "Company") is a limited liability company incorporated in Great Britain and domiciled within the United Kingdom whose shares are publicly traded.  The consolidated preliminary results of the Company as at and for the year ended 31 December 2020 comprise the Company and its subsidiaries (together referred to as the "Group").

The consolidated preliminary results of the Group for the year ended 31 December 2020 were approved by the directors on 2 March 2021. The Annual General Meeting of PageGroup plc will be held at the registered office, Page House, The Bourne Business Park, 1 Dashwood Lang Road, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 2QW on 3 June 2021 at 9.30am.

 

 

2.         Accounting policies

 

Basis of preparation

Whilst the information included in this preliminary announcement has been prepared in accordance with the recognition and measurement criteria of  International Accounting Standards in conformity with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 and International Financial Reporting Standards adopted pursuant to Regulation (EC) No.1606/2002 as it applies in the European Union,  this announcement does not itself contain sufficient information to comply with IFRSs.

 

The consolidated financial statements comprise the financial statements of the Group as at 31 December 2020 and are presented in UK Sterling and all values are rounded to the nearest thousand (UK £'000), except when otherwise indicated.

 

Going concern

The Board has undertaken a review of the Group's forecasts and associated risks and sensitivities, considering the expected impact of COVID-19 on trading in the period from the date of approval of these financial statements to 31 March 2022 (the review period).

 

Following the reduction in activity starting in February 2020, the Group adopted a number of cost control and cash conservation measures. Through the second quarter and continuing through the second half of the year, activity levels started to pick up in several of the Group's markets. The activity improvements are reflected in KPIs, such as new opportunities, candidates sent to clients, interviews and offers in several of our markets. This trend has continued in line with the Group's Base Case forecast, as described below.

 

The Group had £166m of cash at 31 December 2020, with no debt except for IFRS 16 lease liabilities of £103.5m. Debt facilities relevant to the period comprise a committed £30m RCF with BBVA (facility expiring in May 2022 with all covenants waived until the expiry of the facility), an uncommitted £300m government CCFF (available to March 2022 if drawn in March 2021), an uncommitted UK trade debtor discounting facility (up to £50m depending on debtor levels) and an uncommitted £20m UK bank overdraft facility.

 

The Group has developed Base Case and Downside scenarios that demonstrate the Board's best estimate and severe but plausible downside scenarios respectively for the review period. The Downside scenario is based on assumptions for gross profit and costs that take account of the possibility of further COVID-19 lockdowns and further recessionary pressures, at similar levels to that experienced in 2020. These are mitigated by the reduction in fee earner headcount as a result of natural attrition to some extent, but does not take account of all the other cost containment or cash preservation measures available to the Group if required. All scenarios demonstrate significant cash headroom, with no requirement to utilise any of the facilities.

 

Having considered the Group's forecasts, the level of cash resources available to the business and the Group's borrowing facilities, the Group's geographical and discipline diversification, limited concentration risk, as well as the ability to manage the cost base, the Board has concluded that the Group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the period through to March 2022.

 



 

Nature of financial information

The financial information contained within this preliminary announcement for the 12 months to 31 December 2020 and 12 months to 31 December 2019 do not comprise statutory financial statements for the purpose of the Companies Act 2006, but are derived from those statements. The statutory accounts for PageGroup plc for the 12 months to 31 December 2019 have been filed with the Registrar of Companies and those for the 12 months to 31 December 2020 will be filed following the Company's Annual General Meeting.

 

The auditors' reports on the accounts for both the 12 months to 31 December 2020 and 12 months to 31 December 2019 were unqualified and did not include a statement under Section 498 (2) or (3) of the Companies Act 2006.

 

The Annual Report and Accounts will be available for Shareholders in April 2021.

 

New accounting standards, interpretations and amendments adopted by the Group

The accounting policies adopted in the preparation of the condensed consolidated preliminary results are consistent with those followed in the preparation of the Group's annual consolidated financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020.   

 

The Group has not early adopted any standard, interpretation or amendment that has been issued but is not yet effective.

 

 

3.         Segment reporting

 

All revenues disclosed are derived from external customers.

 

The accounting policies of the reportable segments are the same as the Group's accounting policies. Segment operating profit represents the profit earned by each segment including allocation of central administration costs. This is the measure reported to the Group's Board, the chief operating decision maker, for the purpose of resource allocation and assessment of segment performance.  

 

(a)        Revenue, gross profit and operating profit by reportable segment

 




Revenue


Gross Profit




2020



2019


2020



2019




£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000













EMEA


717,294



861,827


319,360



418,328













Asia Pacific


215,959



273,437


121,113



163,255













Americas


154,257



205,074


88,791



138,791













United Kingdom


217,281



313,610


80,985



135,076
















1,304,791



1,653,948


610,249



855,450

 




Operating Profit

 




2020



2019

 




£'000



£'000

 








 

EMEA


30,605



90,333

 








 

Asia Pacific


3,789



19,810

 








 

Americas


(7,021)



19,268

 








 

United Kingdom


(10,345)



17,258

 








 

Operating profit

17,028



146,669

Financial expense

(1,484)



(2,424)

Profit before tax

15,544



144,245

 

The above analysis by destination is not materially different to analysis by origin.

 

The analysis below is of the carrying amount of reportable segment assets, liabilities and non-current assets. Segment assets and liabilities include items directly attributable to a segment as well as those that can be allocated on a reasonable basis. The individual reportable segments exclude current income tax assets and liabilities. Non-current assets include property, plant and equipment, computer software, goodwill and other intangible.

 

 

 

 

(b)        Segment assets, liabilities and non-current assets by reportable segment

 




Total Assets


Total Liabilities




2020



2019


2020



2019




£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000













EMEA


230,350



294,597


163,961



196,473

Asia Pacific


111,090



119,110


54,899



45,832













Americas


80,662



111,649


41,071



53,288













United Kingdom


190,838



163,207


41,632



62,481

Segment assets/liabilities

612,940



688,563


301,563



358,074

Income tax


16,889



13,008


12,365



19,110
















629,829



701,571


313,928



377,184

 




Property, Plant & Equipment


Intangible Assets




2020



2019


2020



2019




£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000













EMEA


10,810



12,732


2,666



2,818













Asia Pacific


4,451



5,560


371



495













Americas


6,052



7,471


120



162













United Kingdom


5,088



6,162


38,648



35,579
















26,401



31,925


41,805



39,054

 




Right-of-use assets


Lease liabilities




2020



2019


2020



2019




£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000













EMEA


47,941



63,270


51,070



65,676

Asia Pacific


13,924



11,981


14,532



13,027













Americas


14,862



20,878


17,590



23,725













United Kingdom


18,687



24,117


20,277



26,184




95,414



120,246


103,469



128,612

 

 

 

 

 



 

The below analyses in notes (c) relates to the requirement of IFRS 15 to disclose disaggregated revenue streams.           

 

(c)        Revenue and gross profit generated from permanent and temporary placements

 

 




Revenue


Gross Profit




2020



2019


2020



2019




£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000













Permanent


441,467



649,948


436,689



643,787













Temporary


863,324



1,004,000


173,560



211,663
















1,304,791



1,653,948


610,249



855,450

 

 

 

The below analyses in notes (d) revenue and gross profit by discipline (being the professions of candidates placed) and (e) revenue and gross profit generated from permanent and temporary placements have been included as additional disclosure over and above the requirements of IFRS 8 "Operating Segments".         

 

(d)        Revenue and gross profit by discipline

 

 

 

 






Revenue


Gross Profit






2020



2019


2020



2019






£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000















Accounting and Financial Services



528,202



662,458


212,243



298,648















Legal, Technology, HR, Secretarial and Other


374,406



442,648


166,249



212,244















Engineering, Property & Construction, Procurement & Supply Chain

273,771



359,216


141,829



203,275















Marketing, Sales and Retail



128,412



189,626


89,928



141,283




















1,304,791



1,653,948


610,249



855,450

 

 

(e) Revenue and gross profit by strategic market

 




Revenue


Gross Profit




2020



2019


2020



2019




£'000



£'000


£'000



£'000













Large, Proven markets

728,736



962,424


289,202



426,178

Large, High Potential markets

397,166



478,950


218,196



298,139

Small and Medium, High Margin markets

178,889



212,574


102,851



131,133
















1,304,791



1,653,948


610,249



855,450

 



 

4.         Financial income / (expenses)

 


2020


2019


£'000


£'000

Financial income




Bank interest receivable

588


494





Financial expenses




Bank interest payable

(413)


(953)

Interest on lease liabilities

(1,659)


(1,965)


(2,072)


(2,918)

 

 

5.         Taxation

 

Tax on profit was £21.3m (2019: £40.8m). This represented an effective tax rate of 136.9% (2019: 28.3%).

 

We have generated profits in overseas countries which have higher rates and we have been subject to additional taxes on profits which have contributed 61.7% to the tax rate in 2020.

 

Losses arose in the year that we could not recognise due to the requirement to have profits against which to offset in the foreseeable future. In addition, we wrote off deferred tax assets on losses which expired in the period as well as deferred tax assets on deductible temporary differences and losses where we do not consider it probable that there will be taxable profits to support their recovery in future periods. Together, these increased the tax rate by 22.3%.

 

Disallowable and other permanent differences are broadly in line with 2019, though with the significant reduction in PBT, the impact on the rate has been much greater. Similarly to 2019, adjustments in respect of prior periods were one-off in nature, and again have a higher impact on the rate due to the lower PBT in 2020. Finally there have been changes to the substantively enacted tax rates which apply to the calculation of deferred tax, predominately in the UK (moving from 17% to 19%).  Collectively, these increased the tax rate by 33.9%. 

 

These factors add to the basic UK rate of 19% to give the total effective tax rate of 136.9%.  

 

 

6.         Dividends

 







2020


2019







£'000


£'000

Amounts recognised as distributions to equity holders in the year:




Final dividend for the year ended 31 December 2019 of 9.40p per ordinary share (2018: 9.00p)

-


28,978

Interim dividend for the year ended 31 December 2020 of 0p per ordinary share (2019: 4.30p)

-


13,759

Special dividend for the year ended 31 December 2020 of 0p per ordinary share (2019: 12.73p)

-


40,732







-


83,469










Amounts proposed as distributions to equity holders in the year:













Proposed final dividend for the year ended 31 December 2020 of 0.00p per ordinary share (2019: 9.40p)

-


30,154

 

The proposed final dividend for 2019 of 9.40p per ordinary share, or £30.2m, which was due for payment in June 2020, was cancelled as a result of the ongoing uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

7.         Share-based payments

 

In accordance with IFRS 2 "Share-based Payment", a charge of £4.3m has been recognised for share options and other share-based payment arrangements (including social charges) (31 December 2019: £6.8m).

 

 



8.         Earnings per ordinary share

 

The calculation of the basic and diluted earnings per share is based on the following data:

 

Earnings

2020



2019






Earnings for basic and diluted earnings per share (£'000)

(5,742)



103,445






Number of shares





Weighted average number of shares used for basic earnings per share ('000)

319,664



320,789

Dilution effect of share plans ('000)

925



375

Diluted weighted average number of shares used for diluted earnings per share ('000)

320,589



321,164






Basic earnings per share (pence)

(1.8)



32.2

Diluted earnings per share (pence)

(1.8)



32.2






 

The above results all relate to continuing operations.





 

 

9.         Property, plant and equipment

 

Acquisitions and Disposals

During the year ended 31 December 2020 the Group acquired property, plant and equipment with a cost of £4.9m (2019: £9.6m).

 

Property, plant and equipment with a carrying amount of £0.8m were disposed of during the year ended 31 December 2020 (2019: £1.5m), resulting in a loss on disposal of £0.3m (2019: loss of £0.2m).

 

 

10.        Trade and other receivables

 


2020



2019


£'000



£'000

Current





Trade receivables

197,195



281,176

Less allowance for expected credit losses and revenue reversals

(11,061)



(10,081)

Net trade receivables

186,134



271,095

Other receivables

4,393



10,643

Accrued income

51,282



70,421

Prepayments

10,667



13,396


252,476



365,555

Non-current





Other Receivables

13,169



15,036

 

 

11.        Trade and other payables

 


2020



2019


£'000



£'000

Current





Trade payables

3,993



6,702

Other tax and social security

44,890



51,687

Other payables

35,664



31,216

Accruals

99,475



126,206


184,022



215,811

Non-current





Deferred income

11,836



10,330

Other tax and social security

647



1,283


12,483



11,613

 

 



 

12.        Cash and cash equivalents

 


2020



2019


£'000



£'000






 Cash at bank and in hand

108,849



90,856

 Short-term deposits

57,138



6,976

 Cash and cash equivalents

165,987



97,832

 Cash and cash equivalents in the statement of cash flows

165,987



97,832

 

The Group operates multi-currency cash concentration and notional cash pools, and an interest enhancement facility. The Eurozone subsidiaries and the UK-based Group Treasury subsidiary participate in the cash concentration arrangement, the Group Treasury subsidiary retains the notional cash pool and the Asia Pacific subsidiaries operate the interest enhancement facility.  The structures facilitate interest compensation of cash whilst supporting working capital requirements.

 

PageGroup maintains a Confidential Invoice Facility with HSBC whereby the Group has the option to discount facilities in order to advance cash on its receivables. The facility is used only ad hoc in case the Group needs to fund any major GBP cash outflow.

 

 

13.        Annual General Meeting

 

The Annual General Meeting of PageGroup plc will be held at Page House, The Bourne Business Park, 1 Dashwood Lang Road, Addlestone, Weybridge, Surrey, KT15 2QW on 3 June 2021 at 9.30am.

 

 

14.        Publication of Annual Report and Accounts

 

This preliminary statement is not being posted to shareholders. The Annual Report and Accounts will be posted to shareholders in due course and will be delivered to the Registrar of Companies following the Annual General Meeting of the Company.

 

Copies of the Annual Report and Accounts can be downloaded from the Company's website https://www.page.com/presentations/year/2021

 

 



 

Responsibility statement of the directors on the annual report

 

The responsibility statement below has been prepared in connection with the company's full annual report for the year ending 31 December 2020. Certain parts of the annual report are not included within this announcement.

 

 

We confirm that, to the best of our knowledge:-

 

a) that the consolidated financial statements, prepared in accordance with IFRSs in conformity with the Companies Act 2006 and IFRSs adopted pursuant to Regulation(EC) No 1606/2002 as it applies in the European Union, give a true and fair view of the assets, liabilities, financial position and profit of the parent company and undertakings included in the consolidation taken as a whole; and

 

b) the management report, which is incorporated into the directors' report, includes a fair review of the development and performance of the business and the position of the company and the undertakings included in the consolidation taken as a whole, together with a description of the principal risks and uncertainties they face.

 

On behalf of the Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

S Ingham

K Stagg

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Financial Officer



2 March 2021

2 March 2021

 

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