• Company raised $275M in IPO, at a valuation of $1.2B
  • Revenue rebounded strongly in FY2021 after weak pandemic year
  • Focus on diversification, m-and-a, and niche verticals

In early December, Poland-based recruitment marketplace business Grupa Pracuj listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The company raised $275 million U.S. at a valuation of $1.2 billion U.S. The decision to list locally perhaps demonstrates the relatively low profile of the business, but it has a strong opportunity for growth considering its leading position in two large Eastern European emerging markets.

The company’s future growth strategy is concentrated on diversifying its current reliance on listing revenue, building new products through m-and-a and venture investments, and developing niche recruitment services in areas like IT, as laid out by its Polish-language IPO prospectus.

IPO debut

Grupa Pracuj’s shares opened trading at PLN74 ($18.1 U.S.). In the book-building process, Grupa Pracuj sold over 15 million shares, representing 22.2% of all existing shares of the company. After completion of the offering, Przemysław Gacek, the Grupa Pracuj CEO and co-founder, directly and indirectly through Frascati Investments, remained the majority shareholder of the company, with a stake in the share capital of 53%. Other significant shareholders include investment group TCV Luxco Perogie and co-founder Maciej Noga.

Since the float, Grupa Pracuj shares have remained largely flat, settling at around PLN67 a share by mid-December.

Company profile

The Grupa Pracuj business is split into three primary divisions:

  • Pracuj.pl, the No. 1 recruitment vertical by monthly visits and revenue in Poland. It claims to have a 64% revenue share of the online recruitment market in the country. Its primary strength lies in the white-collar market, though it’s growing its blue-collar offering. It has more than 48,000 active employer clients.
  • Rabota.ua, a Top 3 recruitment vertical in Ukraine. Acquired in 2006, Rabota is involved in a three-way rivalry for market leadership in terms of traffic, although it has recently partnered with market leader Work.ua.
  • ATS business ERecruiter, which has around 1,500 customers. ERecruiter provides Pracuj clients with candidate acquisition, analytics and various other tools.

Pracuj also owns online programming training site Coders Lab, and runs blue-collar site Dryg.pl and TheProtocol.it, a vertical focused on IT jobs.

The company has also been investing in HR and education-related startups through its Pracuj Ventures entity since May 2019. Pracuj Ventures acquires minority shares in startups that already have clients and co-finances them with amounts ranging from PLN500,000 ($128,363 U.S.) up to PLN2 million ($513,484 U.S.) each. All projects supported by Pracuj Ventures are complementary to the operations of Grupa Pracuj.

The fund has acquired a stake in the following startups:

  • Kadromierz.pl – time management software provider.
  • Wandlee.com – a company creating HR chatbots and voicebots.
  • SherlockWaste.com – a cross-channel workforce engagement platform where everyone within an organization can report problems and frustrations regarding workplace, processes, tools, systems etc.
  • InHire.io – an IT recruitment company.
  • GymSteer.com – an app for managing sports facilities and a pay-per-entry marketplace of sport benefits for employees.
  • WorkSmile.com – an employee wellbeing platform.
  • Gamfi.com – a company that offers tools to increase motivation and commitment throughout the employee’s life cycle thanks to gamification.

The financials

Gacek is bullish on the company’s strong management structure and its proven track record of innovation and diversification.

“Our reputation among clients from several dozen countries around the world and recognition among job-seekers make us a regional leader. We have ambitious plans to use the know-how and skills built over two decades to expand the offer of Grupa Pracuj,” he said when announcing the company’s IPO.

In FY2020, Grupa Pracuj saw revenue of PLN299 million ($76.2 million U.S.), down by 18.5% year-on-year. Considering the impact of Covid-19 on recruitment, a much stronger marker for the business is its FY2019 performance — it expanded revenue by 30.5% to $84.3 million U.S. In FY2021, the company is set to rebound and surpass its FY2019 performance, with the first three quarters of the year already bringing in $86.7 million U.S.

Grupa Pracuj’s adjusted EBITDA for the first three quarters of FY2021 amounted to PLN200 million ($50.4 million U.S.), up by 88% from PLN108 million ($27.2 million U.S.) in Q1-Q3 of FY2020, a strong rebound from a pandemic-hit 2020.

Some 86.6% of total Pracuj Group revenue came from job listings in 2020, while Pracuj.pl represents around 80% of total group revenue. It’s a business driven largely by the company’s leading recruitment vertical in Poland, which remains highly dependent on listings revenue. Rabota.ua brought in around 12% of total revenue in 2020 and ERecruiter contributed 8%.

In 2020, Grupa Pracuj’s recruitment sites were used on average by 6.8 million users per month, including 3.1 million in Poland and 3.7 million in Ukraine.

In 2020, the Pracuj.pl app was downloaded and installed from the Google Play and App Store stores 860,000 times in total. In the same year, the Robota.ua mobile app achieved over 1.3 million downloads and installations from the Google Play store.

Highly competitive landscape

The Pracuj business is reminiscent of HeadHunter Group in Russia, another publicly listed recruitment business in a large Eastern European market. Both have built their local dominance through the white-collar segment, particularly in IT and finance jobs. And both have chased innovation and diversification through the acquisitions of small, local recruitment businesses.

However, the primary differentiator between the two businesses is the level of competition. Pracuj faces a much more aggressively competitive environment in Poland.

In the white-collar segment, competition has been growing from GoWork (part of the GoWork Group), Praca.pl, GoldenLine.pl, as well as aggregator Jooble and Indeed’s local vertical pl.Indeed.com. LinkedIn also has a loyal following in Poland, though the site is not a direct competitor. Axel Springer-owned StepStone.pl has also been making inroads in the market, albeit at a slow pace.

Most of these rivals have also been making inroads in the blue-collar segment, where Prosus-owned horizontal OLX.pl is especially strong, and where PracazaRogiem.pl, an app owned by Finland-based Alma Media, has been fighting for market share. However, Pracuj has demonstrated little desire to enter the blue-collar market and there is no clear pathway laid out in its IPO prospectus to growing its presence in this area.

Based on PBI / Gemius data, an internet analytics resource that usually delivers greater accuracy in Poland than alternative services such as SimilarWeb, Pracuj.pl is not the market leader by reach or users in Poland, which demonstrates well the scope of competition in the country.

In Ukraine, there is an interesting new dynamic between Pracuj’s Rabota.ua vertical and market leader Work.ua. Since September 2021, the co-owners of Work.u —  Artur Mikhno and Andrii Borovik — have taken a small shareholding in Rabota.ua via holding company Gravity-U. Meanwhile, Pracuj CEO Gacek became a stakeholder in Work Ukraine, the legal entity of Work.ua. The financials in the deal, a share swap or otherwise, remain undisclosed.

The two entities will remain independent but have agreed to collaborate in the market, though to what degree remains unclear.

Roadmap to growth

With such intense competition, how does Pracuj expect to grow revenue and expand the business? In its prospectus, the company lays out three primary paths to growth:

  • Innovation and diversification. A continued dedication to diversifying the business through m-and-a and investments via Pracuj Ventures. It’s an approach that has been similarly adopted by the likes of HeadHunter, StepStone and Seek in Australia. The strategic focus is on building added-value services for both employers and job-seekers, particularly in areas such as employer reviews, gamification, as well as tech add-ons like chatbots and AI assessments. This entire ecosystem is then supported by its ERecruiter ATS business, where Pracuj expects to see greater uptake rates. This will then lead to a diversification of the company’s bottom line (decreasing the current dependence on listing fees) while driving user traffic and market share through a wider array of consumer-facing features and services.

 

  • Niche job services. Pracuj is actively building niche recruitment services, mostly across the white-collar space. IT is the obvious target, via its Tit site, and where Pracuj sees an opportunity to increase ARPC from its existing customers and to reach customers in new segments. “The new site allows users to search for job offers based on key information specific to the IT industry, including salary range, technology and programming language, as well as the model of work and office location. The site’s UX has also been adapted to the needs of this demanding group of candidates — it is simplified and speeds up the process of viewing job announcements,” Aleksandra Skwarska, PR manager at Grupa Pracuj, told the AIM Group. The company does view some potential in blue collar, where it has adjusted its offering and prices to target lower-income segments, but this seems a long shot considering the already high maturity of rivals in this space.

  • Market maturity. Pracuj believes online recruitment is still at a low level of maturity in both Poland and Ukraine, and macroeconomic factors as well as greater digitization will continue to drive the value of the industry and thereby increase the worth of Pracuj’s market share. Pracuj believes it is well placed as the market leader to leverage its position and benefit from overall economic growth and urbanization. Ukraine presents a raw but an especially attractive option considering the low level of competition and nascent state of the local recruitment market. “Grupa Pracuj is convinced that its leading position on the online recruitment market in Poland and Ukraine, which together are the largest labor markets in the EU, will be a key factor in driving the revenues and development of Grupa Pracuj.”

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