Belfast Telegraph

European recruitment boosts profits at Hays despite 'challenging' London trading

Profits at recruitment firm Hays are set to come in ahead of market expectations, despite the company grappling with a slowdown in its UK and Ireland business as London trading remains "challenging".

The firm hailed a record net fee performance for the quarter to June 30, helped by its European operation.

Total like-for-like sales grew 7% in the period, with continental European and Hays' global arm seeing an 11% rise, but the UK and Ireland fell 5%.

The firm flagged earlier this year that the UK business had suffered a Brexit hit, as British companies applied the brakes to their hiring plans following the EU referendum vote.

But the drag was not enough to dampen the outlook for full-year operating profit, which is expected to be "marginally ahead" of consensus market expectations of £209.5 million.

Chief executive Alistair Cox said: "We have ended our financial year with a record quarterly net fee performance.

"Europe delivered strong results, led by an excellent performance in Germany, where we have increased consultant headcount by over 20% during the year."

He added that the underlying trends in the UK remain "sequentially stable", with modest improvements in the private sector offset by a tough public sector market.

In the UK and Ireland, which make up 25% of the group, fees in London tumbled 9% and Hays' accountancy and finance division was down 4%.

Overall net fees rose 15% and continental Europe and global grew 24%.

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