The Covid pandemic inflicted another quarter of reduced profits on recruiter PageGroup as its UK business lagged behind Europe and Asia.
The FTSE 250 firm’s gross profits for the three months to September fell to nearly £144m, a third lower than the same period a year ago.
The figures reflected a partial recovery from the previous quarter when lockdowns across the globe caused firms to halt hiring and workers to delay resigning from their jobs, driving profits down by almost half.
Steve Ingham, chief executive of PageGroup, said: “The improving activity levels we saw in June progressed further in the quarter.”
Gross profits in the UK, which accounts for about an eighth of the group’s business, fell 47.9pc to less than £18m for the quarter.
In the UK, temporary recruitment fell by 40pc but proved more resilient than permanent hiring, the firm said. Public sector roles were less affected than private sector hiring, which fell by almost half.
While the UK braces for tighter Covid restrictions, other markets have returned to more normal levels of activity.
The company’s performance in the UK was worse than in both the Asia Pacific region, where profits fell 28.2pc, and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which suffered a 24.5pc drop. Profits in the Americas were 41.9pc lower.
Some markets, such as mainland China and Japan, were either flat or returning to growth, Mr Ingham said.
In Germany, where employees were quicker to return to offices than in the UK, profits fell by a tenth.
PageGroup, which operates in 36 countries and specialises in recruiting professionals, has recalled most of its 324 furloughed UK staff. Employees who took pay cuts had their full salaries restored in July, the firm said.
It hired 169 recruiters worldwide in the past three months, mostly in more resilient markets such as technology and healthcare and life sciences.
Shares rose 1.3pc to 416.6p, valuing the company at almost £1.4bn.