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Search records profit and staff levels increase

SEARCH Consultancy has seen profits edge up in its last financial year, after taking into account £1.2 million of exceptional items linked to restructuring and losses on outsourcing contracts.

READY: Search is the official recruitment agency for the Games, for which some events will be staged at Hampden.
READY: Search is the official recruitment agency for the Games, for which some events will be staged at Hampden.

Pre-tax profits at the Glasgow-based recruitment specialist, which employs about 155 staff in Scotland, came in at £2.82m for the year ended January 5.

This compares with pre-tax profits of £2.78 million the year before, accounts newly filed at Companies House show.

Turnover jumped to £135 million from £125 million as Search, which also provides advertising and response handling services, benefited from the improving economic outlook.

The directors state in their report on the accounts that they are "satisfied with the performance and direction of the business", adding: "The staffing sector suffered from the downturn in the economy, but the directors are pleased to note the general upturn in the economy and improvement in activity and results during the second half of 2013 and into 2014."

The accounts show Search, the official recruitment agency for the Commonwealth Games, booked £940,000 of losses on "certain outsourcing contracts" during the year. Work on those contracts ended during the period. There were also exceptional items totalling £148,000 in restructuring costs, and £80,000 linked to dilapidations. The directors added: "The results for 2013 reflect the strength of the company's core recruitment business alongside the company's outsourcing activities.

"With the termination of loss-making contracts during 2013 alongside a strategic restructuring, the company enters 2014 leaner and with an absolute focus on delivering outstanding service to clients in both the core recruitment and outsourcing markets."

Search reported a rise in average employee numbers over the period, with the headcount rising to 517 from 473 the year before.

The accounts state that staff costs rose in tandem, edging up to £19.6 milllion from £18.4 million as wages and salaries rose to £17.7 milllion against £16.4 million the year prior.

The accounts disclose that directors' pay is borne by the company's ultimate parent, Search Consultancy Group plc.

The parent group announced separate details on its financial performance for the 53 weeks to January 5 yesterday, highlighting an 8.4 per cent rise in revenue to £135.4 million. Net fee income (gross profit) increased by 8 per cent to £32.5 million from £30.1 million, with the company reporting year-on-year income rises in the professional services, medical, construction, engineering call centre, offices services and industrial sectors.

Chief executive Grahame Caswell declared the company had emerged from the recession "stronger and leaner".

He said: "We are already starting to capitalise on our strategic development and on the market opportunities that have presented themselves during 2013 and early 2014. I am also delighted to report a very strong start to 2014, with the business having recorded net fee income of £9.2 million in the first quarter, some 30 per cent up on the same quarter last year.

"With continued confidence in the economy, I believe the climate is now one in which the very best staffing companies can thrive."

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