Belfast Telegraph

Hays hikes profits forecast despite tough London recruitment market

Recruitment firm Hays has unveiled record takings despite grappling with a slowdown in its UK and Ireland business as London trading remained tough.

The company said net fees for the third quarter had hit an all-time high, driven by an 18% leap in like-for-like growth across continental Europe and the rest of the world.

However, the United Kingdom and Ireland slipped 4% for the three months to the end of March this year, as it was dragged down by an 8% decline in the capital.

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.

Hays, which employs 9,600 people across 33 countries, said total net fees grew 10% on a like-for-like basis over the period thanks to a strong international trading.

Chief executive Alistair Cox said the record fee performance had given the firm confidence to lift its expectations for full-year profits.

He said: "Growth was broad-based and driven by strong performances in our international businesses. Europe delivered excellent results, led by an all-time record performance in Germany , as we continued to invest in additional headcount.

"Growth in Australia accelerated further and was strong across all states. In the UK, while the public sector market remained tough, we saw continued signs of improvement in the private sector market.

"Looking ahead, conditions remain good in the vast majority of our markets, notably Australia, Europe and North America. In the UK, market conditions remain in line with the underlying Q3 trends."

The recruiter said it now expected annual operating profit to be at the top range of market predictions of between £199 million and £209 million.