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Managing director of Australian recruiter Clarius Group (CND:ASX), Kym Quick, said the Australian recruitment market is “very close to the bottom” with the firm not expecting “any significant uplift” until early 2014 after the election and the seasonal downturn.
In an interview with Open Briefing, issued to shareholders today, she said trading conditions have been mixed. “The March quarter was incredibly challenging: we saw a particularly slow period after Christmas, with contractors stood down for longer periods than we’ve seen traditionally,” according to Ms Quick.
“It also took a very long time for companies to come back into hiring mode. Historically by the end of January, early February, we start to see increased demand, but this year we didn’t see that until mid to late March.”
But the MD added that the current quarter has seen an improvement regarding job flow and pipeline. “In the local market we’ve seen improved demand and some increase in productivity, which is encouraging, and at the same time our business in China has started to contribute, moving into profitability from April.”
Last week, Clarius said it expected a net loss after tax for the 12 months to June of up to AUD 0.9 million, down from a net profit of AUD 2.1 million in the prior year. Ms Quick said that local clients remain cautious about the slowing of investment in the mining sector, lower commodity prices, and the potential impact this might have on the economy.
Outside Australia, she said opportunities are significant. China, she said, is “a huge market, and the recruitment industry there is still in the early stages of development and maturity. We have not seen the level of pressure on margins that we’ve experienced in Australia and with talent in very short supply in such a high demand market, recruitment companies are still a major source of talent for corporations in China.”
Clarius has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China. The firm specialises in permanent and temporary staffing to sectors such as IT, accounting, banking and engineering.