Michael Page fares worst of global recruiters in COVID-devastated June quarter

Eleven global recruitment agencies; Hays, Manpower, Page Group (Michael Page), Robert Walters, Randstad, Robert Half, SThree, Kelly, PERSOL, Outsourcing and Adecco have recently released quarterly updates for trading results to 30 June.

In terms of large global companies with a significant local presence, half-yearly or quarterly results have yet to be announced by Recruit Holdings (Chandler Macleod, peoplebank) and Will Group (U&U, Quay Appointments, DFP Recruitment, Ethos Beachchapman).

The results tell a strikingly similar tale:

Selected global recruiters: Q2 2020 results

CompanyDecline in global resultDecline in regional resultRegion with largest decline
Michael Page47.6%Asia Pacific 41.6%UK (61.5%)
Robert Walters34%Asia Pacific 34%Other International (36%)
Hays34%ANZ 28%UK & Ireland (42%)
Robert Half33.6%NAAccounting & Finance (49.6%) *
Manpower31.9%Asia Pacific Middle East 19%France (47.5%)
Randstad30.7%Rest of World 2% (revenue)France (41%)
Adecco30%ANZ 12%France (44%)
Kelly21.7%APAC (up 10.8%)Ireland (61.9%)
SThree7%Asia Pacific 28% (H1)Asia Pacific (H1 28%)
Outsourcing5.3%NAOther Business (H1 92.3%)
PERSOL3.6%APAC 1.6%Solution (29.5%)

Note: All results are gross profit changes for the April – June quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019, except SThree (Dec 2019 – May 2020, H1) and Outsourcing (Jan – June 2020, H1), all results are in constant currency unless otherwise noted. Robert Half only released data by division, rather than by region. * indicates revenue decline as gross profit results per division were not released. Robert Half Accounting & Finance is permanent placements only. Persol’s APAC results are consolidated with a delay of 3 months. Q2 for PERSOL APAC covers the period from January to March 2020. PERSOL operates a 1 April – 31 March financial year hence they report their results as Q1 results. For comparative purposes, I have labelled them Q2 results. 

Quarterly results don’t necessarily include operating or net profit information. The profit updates that have been released make for sobering reading.

  • Manpower reported a Q2 operating loss of USD 64.4 million down from a USD 127.3 profit in Q2 2019.
  • Randstad reported a Q2 operating loss of €69 million down from a €238 million profit in Q2 2019.
  • SThree reported a 49% operating profit decline, from £23.3 million to £13.7 million, for H1 (1 December 2019 – 31 May 2020)
  • Hays released full year (July 2019 – June 2020) operating profit guidance of £130-£135 million, down approximately 46% from £248 million in the 2019 FY
  • Adecco reported a quarterly operating profit decline of 79%, from €241 million to €50 million
  • Kelly reported a quarterly operating profit decline of 68.2%, from USD 34.8 million to USD 11.1 million
  • Outsourcing reported a half-yearly operating profit decline of 40.3%
  • PERSOL reported a quarterly operating profit decline of 9.4%
  • PERSOLKELLY business (their brand for the APAC division) showed 23% growth on USD although reported an operating loss for Q2 of JPY 116 million (circa USD 1 million). Fully-owned subsidiary, PROGRAMMED, recorded a sales increase by about 7% on AUD basis.

Context with respect to the Kelly APAC results, as compared to the companies on this list, is seen in Kelly APAC total quarterly gross profit of $6.8 million.

The overall Kelly results were significantly less impacted due to their Global Talent Solutions (GTS) division, which accounts for 25 per cent of their global gross profit, recording a 3.8 per cent increase in their quarterly gross profit.  Kelly GTS encompasses services across; Master Service Provider; Contingent Workforce Outsourcing; Recruitment Process; Outsourcing; Business Process Outsourcing; Advisory; and Talent Fulfillment solutions.

Across the globe, It’s hard to be optimistic that results will get better before they get worse with significant headcount reductions likely to continue for the rest of this year.

I suspect everybody in the global recruitment industry is already looking forward to 2021 with an optimistic air; surely it couldn’t be worse than this?


  1. Updated on 24 July 2020 to include Q2 2020 results for Robert Half
  2. Updated on 7 August 2020 to include Q2 results for Adecco and Kelly
  3. Updated on 10 August to include H1 results for Outsourcing
  4. Updated on 13 August to include Q2 results for PERSOL

Related blogs

Michael Page results: Two years on from their infamous ski trip 

Michael Page in deep snow: A monumental failure of leadership

Hays consultants bill 61% more than local rivals during COVID crisis 

Foreign buyers continue local shopping as USA’s Express buys Frontline

Hays: Still a force but Japanese invaders pose new threat

The recruitment industry: Where to now?



  1. Greg W on 23/07/2020 at 6:36 pm

    The CEO of Page takes home GBP 4m. Which isn’t far off the salary of Matt Comyn from CBA and quite far ahead of his counterparts at Hays etc. Despite the Covid quarter its difficult to see how that wage is justified especially looking at the share price and dividends paid out over last few years.

  2. Anon on 23/07/2020 at 9:45 pm

    It’s actually great in the States. We’ve come off a record quarter. It’s unsurprising that the uninspiring global agencies are failing.

    • James on 24/07/2020 at 9:49 am

      Hi ‘Anon’, what does ‘great in the States’ mean?
      Our news must be wrong here because it certainly doesn’t look great in the States from where I’ve been watching.
      Unless by ‘coming off a record quarter’ you mean the Jan-Mar quarter (which was pretty good for many) it’d be hard to believe the whole of ‘the States’ had a bumper Apr-Jun quarter which was the quarter being discussed in the blog.

      • Anon on 13/08/2020 at 3:54 am

        I was referring to April – Jun, “James”. It was a great quarter for many of the boutiques.

        You must be talking to your global agency friends. I’ve seen their numbers, I agree, they’re not great.

  3. Jack on 28/07/2020 at 5:40 am

    States is booming in certain parts. You need to remember James that America is huge not like the UK. Each state is basically like a single Britain. Very different markets in each and political views! For example San Francisco is doing great against the Covid but NYC is not etc. West coast / Boston seems to be flourishing.

  4. BMS on 07/08/2020 at 9:29 pm

    Also worth mentioning that Page shut down their office in NZ as a result of COVID losses.

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