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Poolia posts a healthy report

Poolia posts a healthy report in a tough market

Despite a clear drop in demand for staffing services, Poolia is continuing the positive trend from 2008 and posting a healthy profit for the first quarter of the year. Growth is declining in most markets except healthcare, where Dedicare has not yet been affected by the economic downturn. It is primarily in the service area of permanent placement that the slowdown is most tangible. In order to cope with the fall in demand, we have intensified sales and marketing initiatives while at the same time continuing to adapt the business to the prevailing market situation.

MD and CEO Johan Eriksson comments on Poolia's interim report for 1 January - 31 March 2009.
The rapid slowdown in the economy that we saw at the end of last year was clearly felt during the first quarter of this year. January is usually a month that starts quite slowly, and this year it took longer than usual for demand to take off after the Christmas and New Year holiday. The initiatives that had been launched in 2008, to generate both greater market presence and increased efficiency, have contributed towards our strong quarterly report.
Quarterly revenues dropped by 1.8% to a total of MSEK 353.5 (360.1) - 29.6M. The operating profit was MSEK 18.4 (28.3) - 1.5M. The business during the first quarter of 2009
Poolia stands for quality and a high degree of specialisation in the business areas of Finance & Accounting, Financial Services, Human Resources, Sales & Marketing, IT & Engineering, Office Support and Executive.

Revenues within Poolia Sweden fell by 12.4% Revenues from permanent placement fell by no less than 55%. Thanks to our experienced, skilled employees, we have quickly been able to adapt the business to the new conditions that an economic downturn brings with it. Decisions were made during the period to start up new local offices in Gvle and Linkping. The operating margin for the quarter was 8.1% (10.9).

The market in the UK continues to be tough, and here too we see a reduction in the number of permanent placement assignments. During the course of one year we have managed to adapt the business to the prevailing market, but we have now reached a point where we must generate more volume to achieve a positive operating profit. In the banking sector, which was the sector that shrank most of all last year, we can now see slight increase in demand on the temporary staffing side. The Finance & Accounting area continues to be stable, while things are very tough in Office Support. The operating margin for the quarter was -2.7% (1.7).

In Germany we can also see a reduction in the area of permanent placement, which is also having a negative effect on the operating margin. This is to some extent balanced by the fact that there is continued growth in temporary staffing. Our main focus has been on work to extend the range of what we offer. Even if not all offices were profitable before the economic downturn came along, it is our objective to be able to retain our geographical platform so that we are in a strong position when the economic trend turns. The operating margin for the quarter was 7.5% (11.7).

In Finland we have held on to the strong position that we created in 2008. The market has been tougher during the first quarter of the year, but we have performed very well in terms of both revenues and operating margin. Revenues from permanent placement fell by 31%, which was compensated by revenues from temporary staffing, which rose by 37%. The operating margin for the quarter was 5.7% (6.6).

The market in Denmark has continued to worsen. We do, however, still believe that there is good potential, and with increased collaboration within the resund region we believe that the trend in 2009 will take a positive turn. The operating margin for the quarter was negative.

Dedicare, our business in the field of healthcare staffing, has not yet been affected by the economic downturn. We are also seeing demand continue to be high in both Sweden and Norway. In Finland, where we launched a new business in the fourth quarter of 2008, we have not yet achieved a critical mass. In Norway Dedicare has been awarded a framework agreement with the four so-called "Health" regions, which gives Dedicare an opportunity to continue its expansion and to offer Norwegian- and Swedish-speaking healthcare staff assignments all over the country. The agreements cover temporary staffing with doctors, nurses and doctors' secretaries. A national organisation will be created in order to guarantee deliveries. During the quarter we made sure that all units in Dedicare had quality certification in accordance with ISO 9001:2000. The operating margin for the quarter was 7.5% (5.5).

During the quarter we have been forced to adapt the business to compensate for lower demand, which has meant extra expenses this quarter. These measures are expected to have a positive effect on the profit figure for the next quarter.

Looking aheadExactly how the economic situation will develop in future is difficult to assess at present. Poolia is well equipped to deal with the economic downturn in which we find ourselves at the moment, and is well prepared to take further action if the market situation continues to worsen. We are focusing on an increased market presence, but also on continued, strong cost control. At the same time we are also endeavouring to be well placed to satisfy the market when the economy starts to recover. We are convinced that companies will in future strive to achieve even more flexibility in their staffing, and for this reason the penetration rate in our industry will rise even more during the next economic boom. We will be on that train!


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