3 Min Read
* Q1 net profit 176 mln euros vs Reuters poll avg 165 mln
* Sales 5.73 bln euros vs poll avg 5.68 bln
* Staffing group sees growth momentum continuing (Adds comments from CFO, CEO, shares and additional details)
By John Miller and Rupert Pretterklieber
ZURICH, May 9 (Reuters) - The election of centrist reformer Emmanuel Macron to the French presidency is poised to boost the country's competitiveness and eventually add jobs, Adecco said as the world's biggest staffing group's quarterly sales and profit beat expectations.
The 39-year-old Macron's victory over far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen puts him in the hot seat for overhauling the economy in France, Adecco's biggest single market. The former investment banker has promised to reform labour market, simplify the tax and pension systems and cut back regulations.
"We know that one of his short-term key priorities is to continue to reform the labour code, allowing companies to have more flexibility and clarity when they need to hire or lay off," Chief Executive Alain Dehaze told Reuters in an interview.
"This should drive competitiveness and at the end fuel job creation."
Dehaze said there was broad-based recovery in France, particularly in car manufacturing, but also in construction and logistics.
Adecco said first-quarter profit rose more than a fifth, better than expected, as it continued grow in major markets such as Germany and France, while also keeping a lid on costs.
Net profit attributable to shareholders rose to 176 million euros ($192.2 million) in the three months to March, beating the average estimate of 165 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Sales rose to 5.73 billion euros, better than the poll average of 5.68 billion.
Its shares rose 0.4 percent by 0740 GMT after the results that analysts from Kepler Cheuvreux called "very strong".
The Zurich-based company said on Tuesday its organic revenue growth rate remained at 6 percent, despite a global economic outlook that remained uncertain.
Dutch staffing company Randstad last month reported a 21 increase in net profit during the quarter, boosted by strong growth in France and Germany.
U.S. rival Manpower's earnings rose 3.8 percent in the first three months as it saw broad improvement across Europe.
In France, Adecco's revenues rose 8 percent to 1.2 billion euros in the quarter and were up 9 percent in General Staffing, which accounts for more than 90 percent of revenue.
Dehaze highlighted the launch of Adecco's Adia digital platform.
Adia -- where employers who request staff for hourly or daily assignments are matched with workers based on their skills, location and availability -- is in place in five Swiss cities, with four more countries set to join within 12 months. ($1 = 0.9156 euros) (Additional reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields and Louise Heavens)