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Netherlands – Randstad CFO criticises “lack of European leadership”

04 May 2012

Randstad’s first-quarter results saw no growth in most European markets although revenue in North America jumped to over €950 million and CFO, Robert-Jan van de Kraats, believes things may not get better for Europe in the near future.

“There is no leadership in European politics and that hinders companies in their capabilities and activities. We find this a pity,” said Mr Van de Kraats in an interview with Dow Jones Newswire on Thursday.

He was pessimistic about the European labour market, where “large deficits” will increase in the coming years, he said. Mr Van de Kraats particularly referred to the skills shortage that is spreading across Europe and could increase market pressures. 

Analysts are worried about the decline in the firm’s gross margin (which dropped to 18% in the first quarter of 2012 from 18.1% a year ago) fearing that it will remain under pressure in Europe as operational costs are expected to rise. “Europe is now under pressure. If you look at it, you [could] speak of double-dip,” the CFO said.

While Mr Van de Kraats was more sceptical about the European market, he seemed confident about the US as North America could become the firm’s biggest market. Particularly the acquisition of SFN Group, a workforce solutions company, has boosted revenue in the region.

Mr Van de Kraats also said that business in Japan was doing well and although the market is more fragmented, Randstad has a market share of 1.5% there. 

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