Hays reported a boost to net fee income overall in a trading statement today, but revealed that employers in the UK and Ireland were exercising caution.
The recruiter announced that its net fee income across all regions had grown by five per cent on an actual basis for the three months ended March 2016, and by four per cent on a like-for-like basis.
However, net fee income for the UK and Ireland had fallen by three per cent. The public sector market proved particularly tough, with fees dropping by nine per cent, while fees from the private sector came in flat as clients approached recruiting new staff with caution.
Alistair Cox, chief executive of Hays, remarked that the results indicated a good start for the second half of the company's financial year, and added: "Looking ahead, our good underlying financial performance around the world gives us confidence for our full year prospects. Conditions in many markets remain good, and we are delivering excellent results across Europe and the US. In the UK, client sentiment remains cautious and we expect this to continue."
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Analysts at Barclays called today's trading update "decent". They added that the drop in net fees in the UK business was in-line with their forecast, having likely been affected by the early timing of Easter and "business uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum".
Shares in the recruitment company closed up 7.3 per cent at 133.2p.