USG People Strategy paying Off
Revenue rose 9.7% to &euro 684.1 million (Q3 2014: &euro 623.8 million)
Underlying EBITA increased 28% to &euro 37.0 million (Q3 2014: &euro 28.8 million)
Underlying net income rose to &euro 22.9 million (Q3 2014: &euro 17.7 million)
“In the third quarter we accelerated our growth once again,” said Rob Zandbergen, CEO of USG People. “In the Netherlands, Belgium and France our focused organisation enabled us to gain market share. The growth in our services continued strong, both for large clients and in the small and medium-sized business (SME) segment. We were able to realise this growth amid lower expenses, resulting in a strong improvement in our profitability. Underlying EBITA rose by 28% to 5.4% of revenue. We expect the positive trend to continue in the final quarter of the year.”
REVENUE USG People saw revenue grow 9.7 % in the third quarter to &euro 684.1 million (Q3 2014: &euro 623.8 million). The number of working days was on average 0.5 higher than in the third quarter of last year, which had a positive impact of 0.8% on revenue growth. Revenue per working day increased 8.9%. Acquisitions had a positive effect on growth of 0.2%. In the Netherlands year-on-year revenue growth continued to accelerate, to 12.1% from 9.0% in the previous quarter. In Belgium revenue per working day accelerated to 11.1% (Q2 2015: 9.0%). In France revenue per working day rose by 5.0% while in Germany the increase was 1.0%. In the Netherlands, Belgium and France growth amply outpaced market growth, resulting in increased market share for USG People. Growth accelerated during the quarter, with revenue in September increasing 10.1% compared to last year. In the Netherlands revenue in September rose 15.6%, in Belgium 9.0%, in France 7.8% and in Germany 1.0%. There was a further acceleration of growth in the first weeks of October.
GROSS PROFIT The underlying gross result rose 5.7% to &euro 136.1 million in the third quarter (Q3 2014: &euro 128.8 million). As a percentage of revenue the gross margin was 19.9% (Q3 2014: 20.7%). The decline in the gross margin level was mainly due to mix effects. The first nine months of the year saw strong growth at Start People in the volume segment while conversely the third quarter of 2014 had seen a number of large volume contracts being phased out. The impact of this phasing out on last year’s gross margin and the newly won volume contracts in 2015, along with additional strong growth at our existing volume clients, had a significant impact on the gross margin. In addition there was a negative impact as a result of a decline in sales at USG Restart, which has a gross margin of 96%, while highmargin activities, mainly recruitment and selection (gross margin of 100%), were terminated in countries outside the core countries. Revenue from recruitment and selection equalled 0.7% of total group revenue in the third quarter of 2015 compared to 0.8% in the same quarter last year, with the decline mainly attributable to the aforementioned termination of activities. In the core countries revenue from recruitment and selection rose 3% compared to the same quarter last year. The reported gross result included an additional charge of &euro 0.3 million as a result of the transfer of Vakcollege.
OPERATING EXPENSES EXCLUDING DEPRECIATION AND AMORTISATION OF INTANGIBLE ASSETS In the third quarter underlying operating expenses fell by &euro 0.7 million compared to a year earlier to &euro 95.7 million (Q3 2014: &euro 96.4 million). Compared to the previous quarter expenses fell by &euro 5.2 million, with the implementation of optimisation measures producing a saving of &euro 3.2 million and favourable seasonal effects accounting for the remaining &euro 2.0 million reduction. On balance the expense ratio, before depreciation, improved by 150 basis points to 14.0% from 15.5% in the third quarter of last year. The reduction in the cost level is well within our target to lower the expense ratio by at least 60 basis points in 2015 compared to 2014 (from 16.6% in 2014 to no more than 16.0% in 2015). The underlying expense ratio for the first nine months of the year was 15.8%. Reported expenses included both the underlying expenses and a non-recurring charge of &euro 1.6 million. This related to costs for organisational changes in connection with the previously announced optimisation programme, aimed at achieving annual cost savings of &euro 20 million in the Dutch organisation. The programme will be fully executed before the final quarter of 2016.