SThree gross profit up 10% YoY
Contract GP delivered further strong growth up 20%* YoY and now accounts for 64% of Group GP (H1 2014: 60%). Strong seasonal recovery in contractor runners - up 19% YoY at the end of H1 and 2% above 2014 year end peak. Permanent GP up 5%* YoY, with Permanent GP excluding Energy up 10%* Yoy. Period end Group sales headcount at 2,119 up 2% both YoY and against year end. Average sales headcount up 5% YoY. Ongoing foreign exchange headwinds impacted reported GP for the period by £3.6m and operating profit by £0.9m. Net debt was broadly flat at £9.4m (YE 2014: £9.9m)
SThree stated it has made a decisive response to rebalance its sector portfolio in the face of challenging conditions in the energy recruitment market. It additionally stated it has achieved an encouraging trading performance with significant progress made against its key strategic priorities - contract, ongoing sector diversification and international growth
Half year ended
31 May 2015**
1 June 2014
Operating profit conversion ratio
Profit before taxation
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Interim dividend per share
Gary Elden, chief executive officer, commented, "Overall, the Group produced a pleasing first half performance with strong growth in ICT and Life Sciences helping to offset the weakness in Energy, demonstrating, once again, the inherent benefit of remaining well-diversified by sector and geography. We also made good progress with Contract - our strategic priority - and our drive to rebuild productivity in Permanent.
"We believe our Americas business which grew by 34%* year on year remains one of our most exciting growth opportunities as we continue to expand and diversify our sector offering in the USA, the world's largest specialist STEM staffing market.
"Looking ahead, the trading environment remains positive in the majority of our territories. While the outlook for Energy remains challenging and foreign exchange continues to be a headwind, we are confident that there are good growth opportunities available to us across the geographies and sectors we serve in the seasonally more important second half. Investment in Contract headcount will be a key focus in the remainder of the year."