Source - LSE Regulatory
RNS Number : 0762W
PageGroup plc
20 April 2021

20th April 2021


PageGroup plc ("PageGroup" or the "Company")

Annual Report and Accounts and Notice of Annual General Meeting

PageGroup's Annual General Meeting will be held at 9:30am on Thursday 3 June 2021 at Page House, 1 Dashwood Lang Road, The Bourne Business Park, Addlestone, Weybridge, Surrey, KT15 2QW.

In connection with this, the following documents have been posted or made available to shareholders today:

- Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2020;

- Notice of Annual General Meeting; and

- Proxy form for the Annual General Meeting.

The Annual Report and Accounts and the Notice of Annual General Meeting are now available to view or download from the following webpage: Copies of these documents have also been submitted to the National Storage Mechanism and will shortly be available for inspection at

A condensed set of the Company's financial statements and relevant extracts of the Company's management report were included in the Company's preliminary results announcement for the year ended 31 December 2020 which was published on 3 March 2021.  That information, together with the additional information contained in the Appendix to this announcement (which has been extracted from the Annual Report and Accounts) constitutes the material required to be communicated to media in unedited full text through a Regulatory Information Service for the purposes DTR 6.3.5R. This announcement should be read in conjunction with, and is not a substitute for, reading the full Annual Report and Accounts.



For further information contact:

Kaye Maguire

General Counsel & Company Secretary

+44(0)20 3077 8069













Principal risks and uncertainties

Strategic Risks


1.  Shift in Business Model


Nature of risk

We fail to take advantage of technology opportunities to support our drive on productivity, and customer and candidate experience.


The emergence of new technology platforms and providers offering HR solutions and consulting may lead to increased competition and pressure on margin which may adversely affect the Group's results if it were unable to respond effectively


Mitigating actions

·      We actively monitor developments in new technologies and their use in the recruitment sector.

·      We have established an innovation infrastructure with executive governance and regional innovation groups. Opportunities are evaluated, those that meet our criteria are developed and piloted through an innovations lab. The focus is on driving productivity and the provision of new services.

·      We partner with large media providers such as LinkedIn and Facebook to ensure that we use media effectively to enhance our value to clients. All consultants are trained in utilising the benefits of social media in their day-to-day activity.

·      Through our focused Competitive Edge programme, we train our consultants in the use of the new technologies to enable them to resource candidates for our clients at an overall cost that they cannot match.

·      Our Global IT capability is based around standard applications and processes, and an outsourced service model with leading edge providers has enabled us to respond effectively to the changes resulting from COVID and will continue to enable us to do so.

·      As well as our day-to-day interaction with clients and candidates, we conduct formal surveys through SurveyGismo to understand how candidates and clients needs are developing.

Significant Influencing factors

·    COVID has accelerated the use of digital technology in recruitment changing the way clients and candidates engage.

·    Further acceleration of digital, automation and artificial intelligence will create opportunities to use technology in new ways to address our customers needs.




2.  Transformation and change


Nature of risk


Delivery of the Customer Connect programme, our consultants' operating systems, takes significantly longer and costs significantly more than planned.


Future rollouts impact on the operations of business units that are live on Customer Connect.


Our people and processes are not enabled to exploit the benefits of Customer Connect.





Mitigating actions       

·    A Customer Connect change programme has been established under the leadership of a senior steering committee who receive regular status reports.

·      A programme team is in place, led by Operations (front end staff) supported by experienced programme and IT management applying tried and tested implementation procedures including extensive testing.

·      Local management are brought into the programme to deliver country go lives supported by the programme team, regional IT, learning and development and finance. An extensive training programme covers all system functionality and processes including usage, hints and tips.

·      Learnings from countries that have already gone live are being taken into new implementations.

Significant Influencing factors


·      Customer Connect 'Salesforce' based consultant applications have been rolled out to 7 of our markets including the UK and Germany. The rollout is targeted to be completed across the Group by the end of 2022.

·      Salesforce will enable a more efficient and effective recruitment process enabling productivity improvements.




3.  PageGroup brands and services


Nature of risk

As the way clients and candidates source information changes, the awareness of the PageGroup brands and services could deteriorate.

The relevance of the client and candidate engagement we offer could impact our success in acquiring, engaging and nurturing new clients and candidates.

The quality of the services we provide to both clients and candidates could have a significant impact on how our brand is viewed.

We continue to see the reputational impact one-off events can quickly have with the adoption of social media. Any event that could cause reputational damage is a risk to the Group, such as a failure to comply with regulations, or loss or theft of confidential data anywhere in our operating environment.


Mitigating actions

·      In early 2021 we built on our customer initiatives in the UK and Asia Pacific with the launch of our global Completely Customer framework. Its aim is to create a sustainable culture where customer engagement is an increasing competitive advantage for the Group. It will achieve this by building a harmonised programme across PageGroup at local, regional and Group levels.

·      Our data team are focused on the targeting of 'traditional' digital channels (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu). Also supporting the use of our Salesforce marketing suite and tools such as Thunderhead to enable segmentation and personalised activity programmes that will link to our Salesforce based Customer Connect programme.

·      We have accelerated the rollout of both temporary and outsourced services, the latter as a global initiative as well as focusing on growth disciplines such as Technology, Digital and Healthcare and Life Sciences.

·      We continue to seek feedback from our customers, clients and candidates as to how we are performing via the use of Feefo, Google review, net promoter and Glassdoor. We use the feedback to support changes in how we deliver our services.

·      We continue to develop our work on culture and engagement, with initiatives such as Unity and Pride at Page focusing on diversity and inclusion. We also recognise the impact of climate change which we are reviewing as an emerging risk and an opportunity to drive improvement.

·      We have established a Crisis Management response process at Group and Regional levels, which enables us to respond effectively to any incidents.

Significant Influencing factors

·      The COVID pandemic has accelerated a shift in our recruitment process to an online digital format.

·      Activity levels across disciplines and industry sectors has shifted.

·      The agenda around ESG has accelerated in all three areas.




4.  Global Event (new principal risk)


Nature of Risk


An external event occurs that significantly disrupts business and world economies requiring a response in excess of 'normal' contingency planning


Mitigating Actions

·      We have a Group-led Crisis Management policy and process which covers PageGroup in the event of unpredictable events. This lays out the processes to be followed in developing appropriate responses. The Crisis Management process has been cascaded to all Group and Regional business leaders. Our Crisis Management processes have been further reinforced by learning from the COVID-19 response.

·      We maintain a strong ethical culture which ensures that whatever situation the business faces, the focus is to protect our employees, clients and candidates as well as ensuring that we fulfil our broader social responsibilities.

·      A conservative financial strategy which maintains a strong balance sheet and healthy cash balances and facilities.

·      Experienced and agile management team and structure regionally based and in a good position to liaise with Group and local management.


·      A systems capability that means we are not tied to facilities either for our people or the services that we deliver.


·      A flexible workforce that can be deployed to focus on any areas of opportunity and be appropriately scaled.


·      Critical suppliers are chosen for their resilience capabilities and regular checks are conducted to ensure these are being maintained.


·      Within any event there are opportunities. Our people are trained to identify these and to develop offerings in support of business. In doing so we ensure that we behave in an ethical manner.


Significant Influencing factors

·    Over the past two decades we have experienced the Global Financial Crisis and the COVID-19 global pandemic, both major unpredictable incidents that have had immediate and severe long lasting impacts.





5.  People


Nature of risk


Operations - we cannot recruit people with the right potential. A lack of inclusion limits our recruitment pool. Operational Support - we cannot recruit people with the right levels of experience.



We cannot retain our high performers. We do not provide an environment, working practices and processes that suit our people. A lack of diversity impacts on our ability to retain talent.  A lack of opportunity impacts our ability to retain talent.



Operations - We fail to develop the potential of our people. Operational Support - we do not provide development opportunities.



We do not manage leavers efficiently. Leavers have a detrimental impact on our reputation.


Mitigating actions

Actions in response to the COVID pandemic

·       Our Regional HRD's have worked with Regional Management to support our people via communications and training via BOOST, our digital blended learning system, in adapting to new ways of working, understanding our business' response to COVID and maintaining their wellbeing with guidance for both managers and their teams.

·       We are monitoring the wellbeing and ongoing requirements of our people through regular surveys during the COVID pandemic to understand our people requirements enabling us to adapt our support approach.

·       We have taken the opportunity to strengthen our teams with the recruitment of individuals with recruitment experience to support us in those areas with growth opportunities.

Ongoing Initiatives

·      We continue to promote the Group Purpose around 'changing lives', which we also cascade through our Page Employee Value Proposition.

·      We are exploiting our learning capabilities via BOOST!. New blended learning programmes came onstream in September to target, amongst other things, improving on-boarding and speed to success. Our performance management process via Talent Toolbox drives clarity and focus on objectives and behaviours.

·      A truly global Talent, Succession and Development (TS&D) review to ensure strong talent pipeline and address any gaps at senior levels, i.e. MD and above.

·      Investment in leadership development programmes: Page Leadership Excellence, Global Director Academy and Executive Leadership Development. Programmes have been adapted to reflect longer term changes resulting from the impact of COVID-19.

·      Ongoing development of our diversity and inclusion programmes globally, Openpage and Unity@page, ensure we can recruit and retain from all groups of society as our workplace is attractive and inclusive to all. We have continued to develop our focus on ESG through our work on Culture and Engagement.

·      We have responded to changing requirements in ways of working accelerated by the COVID pandemic with a flexible working policy, which also protects our strength in teamwork.

·      We continue to monitor KPIs specifically focused on driving improvements in our retention rates. We conduct regular employee surveys targeted at specific points in an employee's journey with us and specific events. We use this feedback to guide our employee initiatives.

Significant Influencing factors

·      As a result of COVID our people have had to work remotely to varying degrees across the globe depending on local guidance. The health & safety and wellbeing of our people has been and continues to be a priority as we manage the impact of COVID. This change will undoubtedly have an impact on how we work in the future.


·      This presents opportunities, but also requires different management processes to ensure we maintain the health and wellbeing of our people and their operational effectiveness.



Operational Risks


6.  Information Systems


Nature of risk



The business does not appropriately control programme and project delivery. Strategic Business Technology led programmes do not deliver business objective stated. Poorly controlled changes are made or changes are poorly executed which impacts on service levels.



A disruption of service due to a failure of our internal processes or procedures or due to a failure of or at our third party service providers. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery is not sufficient to allow business Operations to continue.



Systems are implemented without the necessary data protection controls.


Mitigating actions



·      New requests for programmes and projects are approved and prioritised through a global demand process before commencement.

·      Strategic programmes' objectives are agreed with and reported on to the Executive Board.

·      A Global PMO process sets out controls for the delivery of programmes and projects.

·      Technical changes to critical systems managed in line with defined processes to protect the integrity and stability of these systems



·      Single Points of Failure for critical systems are reviewed on a regular basis and mitigating actions put in place.

·      Appropriate support agreements and service levels are in place with vendors.

·      For issues that occur, incident management will follow a defined process to minimise disruption to business users.

·      We have defined our third party management policies and processes with dedicated service managers, supported by the Senior Leadership Team and a dedicated IT procurement function.

·      Recovery time and recovery point objectives for critical systems are agreed with the business and tested.



·      Business Technology processes are compliant with data regulation requirements.

·      New systems are designed in compliance with data regulation legislation.


Significant Influencing factors

PageGroup has established global standard processes, with a move to an outsourced services model utilising world class systems and suppliers.



7.  Cyber Security


Nature of risk

Loss of data or systems due to the actions of:


Malicious Outsiders - targeted attack of PageGroup systems.

Malicious Insiders - assisted or generated attack by a disgruntled employee or contractor.

Accidental Outsiders - errors caused by our suppliers.

Accidental Insiders - successful Phishing, Social Engineering, Business Email Compromise


Mitigating actions

Our dedicated Information Security Team continues to mature and identify areas for continued improvement.

·      We have launched several additional defences that continue to reduce the opportunity of a cyber-attack. They include: Our new Cyber Insurance Policy.


·      Warning Banners on all emails to identify potential phishing attacks, plus 1000 higher risk users (HR, Finance, Execs, PAs) have an advanced anti- phishing email defence with an ability to auto-report malicious activity.

·      An 'anti-impersonation' tool that prevents email compromise attacks.

·      Active Web Monitoring identifies malicious website registrations attempting to use the PageGroup brand or where a website is actively mimicking ourselves to falsely attract clients and candidates away from our business. The process now in place allows us to have them taken down.

·      Updated and enhanced our Multi Factor Authentication methodologies to continue to ensure secure access to our systems (similar to banking applications).

·      Password Quality Enhancements, ensuring users select highly secure passwords (similar to banking applications).

·      Implementation of a new security and privacy management tool to identify and manage risks more cohesively across our global business. Better governed vulnerability and patch management process including new reporting dashboards.


·      Fine-tuning of our Security Operations Centre (SOC) Alerts in recognition of our current changes in working practices. Ongoing Audit remediation activities.


·      Implementation of ISO 27001 Certification - a globally recognised and externally assessed InfoSec Framework.





Significant Influencing factors

·      The COVID pandemic has presented opportunities for scammers to prey on staff who are working from home with fake government and HR related emails and links that attempt to extract data or upload malware.

·      The most common route into an organisation's network is via phishing emails (over 90%). As Page relies heavily on the use of email, and it is normal to receive emails from unknown senders, our exposure to phishing remains high.

·      Business Email Compromise (BEC), whereby an executive's email is compromised and used to authorise payments or extract confidential information, have also increased since the pandemic.

·      The move to using public Cloud services for business-critical activities, our significant email use, and extensive use of social media have increased the Group's exposure to external threats.

·      Cyber-attacks continue to increase globally.



8.  Fiscal and legal compliance


Nature of risk

The Group operates in a large number of jurisdictions that have varying legal, tax and compliance requirements. Any non-compliance with client contract requirements and legislation or regulatory requirements could have an adverse effect on the Group's brands or financial results.


Mitigating actions

·      On material legal or fiscal changes there is a Group led approach to regulatory and legislation policies, supported by external advisors globally and in each country. Group Treasury have supported regional management in addressing banking, funding and the requirements of sanctions.

·      We have set up a central review of our ESG activity to ensure we maintain appropriate reporting and support our activities in delivering on ESG compliance requirements.

·      Our Group Tax team co-ordinate with regional management and tax advisors on the Group's tax matters.

See financial management risk for financial compliance activities

Significant Influencing factors

·      Detailed requirements resulting from Brexit still remain unclear and will likely develop over the next 2 years.


·      As our US business grows we recognise the complexity of each state having its own fiscal and legal rules.


·      Changes to the tax status of temporary and contract workers in the UK under IR35.


·      Business is operating more complex structures, eg. statement of works and contracting, entering the RPO market where more legal responsibility may arise, or risk of reclassification of the services provided.


·      In the post COVID environment fiscal scrutiny is likely to increase as governments look to support economic recovery.







9.  Financial management and control


Nature of risk



Mitigating actions

·      The Group maintains strong financial policies and procedures with Group, Regional and local finance teams to ensure these policies as well as local statutory requirements are adhered to. The Group Finance function reviews monthly submissions to ensure policies are adhered to.

·      Shared Service Centres, now under a global reporting structure, have increased resilience and introduced greater levels of process standardisation and improved controls. Global process owners oversee the maintenance of processes.

·      NetSuite, our standard global finance system, has now been embedded across the whole Group enabling standardisation on best practice and global visibility of finance transactions.

·      There are compliance teams located in each region that support local, Regional and Group management in ensuring revenues are appropriately recognised.

·      The SSCs have improved opportunities for career paths allowing hiring and retention of higher calibre personnel.

·      We have Risk and Controls Registers which are owned and embedded within the businesses. Risk reporting is aggregated globally and reviewed every 6 months by the Executive and the Audit Committee.



10.   Data Protection Regulations


Nature of risk

Personal data breaches are committed by our employees and/or third party vendors. Data requests cannot be fulfilled within deadlines imposed by regulators.

When responding to Right To Be Forgotten requests, personal data contained in archived emails isn't deleted immediately.

Our interpretation of data protection laws may prove to be incorrect following clarification by the courts and/or data protection regulators. Customers may take issue with our business processes because their interpretation of data protection law differs from ours.

Regulator guidance on regulatory action against companies including imposition of fines for data protection breaches is evolving and may result in more severe penalties

Mitigating actions

·      Privacy Director is supporting local management in developing plans to address requirements in Brazil, the US, South Africa and Dubai. We maintain a regional approach to ensuring requirements are operationally effective with specialist resources used to support internal management.

·      We have an ongoing staff data protection training programme, (including ePrivacy) delivered via our global training platform.

·      We have regional teams, including legal support, in place who respond to data requests and data related queries including from regulators.

·      We also have a Crisis Management policy to address external data breaches, including informing authorities and customers.

See Cyber Security risk for mitigating activities regarding data protection loss due to system attacks


Significant Influencing factors

Data Protection regulations in the UK and Europe are now well established. Other jurisdictions have implemented local regulations, for example California, or are following along similar lines to GDPR.



Financial Risks


11.   Macro-economic exposure


Nature of risk

Our recruitment activity is driven largely by economic performance and levels of business confidence. Businesses are less likely to need new hires and employees are less likely to move jobs when they do not have confidence in the economy, leading to reduced

recruitment activity.

A substantial proportion of the Group's profit arises from fees that are contingent upon the successful placement of a candidate or in the case of Temp completion of activity. In these cases, if the client cancels the assignment at any stage in the process, the Group receives

no remuneration


Mitigating actions

·      We use our geographical spread to invest in countries and regions where growth is highest.

·      Continue to develop our brands of Page Executive, Michael Page, Page Personnel and Page Outsourcing targeted to the needs of geographies.

·      Further develop our disciplines to take opportunities in growing sectors and those that recover quickest.

·      In those markets built on international business we continue our drive to shift our client base to more domestic.

·      We have maintained and continue to increase the proportion of our cost structure that is variable so that we can respond quickly, for example by our moves to SSCs and IT to a global service based model.

·      We continue to balance permanent and temporary/contracting recruitment mix in line with business levels in each market. The temporary business tends to be more resilient in times of economic downturn.

·      We protect key resources in the short- term so that we can capitalise when the economies recover.

Significant Influencing factors

·      COVID-19 has significantly impacted economies across the globe and forecasts have been changing frequently, both in terms of the scale of the downturn and period to recovery.

·      We are, however, seeing some upturn in economic performances in Asia, particularly Mainland China and Japan where the impacts of COVID appear to be abating.

·      As part of the Brexit process a trade deal has now been agreed between the UK and Europe. The unknown ongoing impact of Brexit, however, has added to the uncertainty on economic growth particularly for the UK, but also for Europe.

·      The US election result is being heralded as political stability. Relations between the US and Greater China, however, remain fragile and made worse by the COVID pandemic.

·      There are some industry sectors that have benefitted from the impact of the COVID pandemic. Examples are online retailers, cloud service providers, food retailers, healthcare, and the tech sector.



12.   Foreign exchange translation


Nature of risk


Material changes in the strength of Sterling against the Group's main functional currencies significantly affects the Group's reported Sterling profits in the financial statements.

The main functional currencies in addition to Sterling are the Euro, US and Australian Dollars.


 Mitigating actions

·      Our Group Treasury function reviews our cash position on a regular basis. Repatriation of funds and conversion back to Sterling protects against any significant Sterling recovery.

·      We do not hedge the translation of our profits.

·      Our communications focus on ensuring the market correctly adjusts for any impact.

·      We have little cross-border trading activity, so the impact on transactions is limited to intercompany items.


Significant Influencing factors

·      COVID-19 has introduced a significant increase in the risk around movement in currencies due to the impact on both economic growth but also on the level of country debt taken to stabilise the impact. Different economies will recover at different speeds. The relative recovery of the UK economy and financial strength will have the largest impact.  

·      The impact of Brexit, despite a trade deal  being agreed, on the performance of Sterling is still unclear.

·      As we continue to expand successfully our overseas operations, our translation exposure to Sterling increases.

·      Current banking consensus is that the exchange rate will remain at around current levels, albeit with an increasing spread of forecast for both the US Dollar and the Euro.




Related Party Transactions

Identity of related parties

The Company has a related party relationship with its Directors and members of the Executive Committee, and subsidiaries

Transactions with key management personnel

Key management personnel are deemed to be the Directors and members of the Executive Committee as detailed in the biographies on pages 61 to 67 of the Company's Annual Report and Accounts. The remuneration of Directors and members of the Executive Committee is determined by the Remuneration Committee having regard to the performance of individuals and market trends. The transactions for the year were:


Related party transactions




Wages and salaries



Social security costs



Short-term benefits



Pension costs - defined contribution plans



Share-based payments and deferred cash plan









Transactions between the Company and its subsidiaries, which are related parties of the Company, have been eliminated on consolidation.  Details of transactions between the parent company and subsidiary undertakings are shown below.



Dividends received

Amounts owed by related parties

Amounts owed to related parties


















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