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PageGroup, the FTSE 250 recruiter, said Brexit related uncertainty was continuing to hit the UK hiring market, despite a record quarter for the group.

Total quarterly gross profits were up from £142.2m in 2016 to £170.3m, a 9.1 per cent increase when exchange rate benefits are stripped out.

But the UK, comprising 22 per cent of PageGroup, saw a contraction of 0.1 per cent year on year for the first quarter of 2017, with gross profits flat at £36.4m.

The white collar staffing group pointed out that a stable performance was better than the 6.7 per cent fall in gross profits for the final quarter of 2016, and CEO Steve Ingham called it the UK’s “best performance for a year”.

“Candidate and client confidence levels remain impacted by uncertainty surrounding Brexit,” said PageGroup.

Meanwhile, overseas growth continued strongly. PageGroup’s French business grew by over a quarter, and the Europe, Middle East and Asia region – 46 per cent of the group – was up nearly 15 per cent overall. PageGroup said the Americas were its fastest growing region.

But PageGroup said market conditions were difficult in several larger markets, including Brazil, Singapore, and within financial services, particularly in New York.

Mr Ingham said:

We are pleased with the strong performance across the majority of our regions, but note the timing of Easter benefited the overall quarterly result.

Furthermore, there remain a number of uncertainties as we continue through 2017, including the impact of Brexit in the UK, elections in Europe and Brazil’s ongoing macro-economic challenges. Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth, while being able to respond quickly to any changes in market conditions.

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