Hays, the UK's largest recruitment firm, today posted its best ever quarterly fees despite a contraction in UK hiring.
As a result, the firm said it expects its third quarter operating profit to be at the top end of previous guidance.
Life-for-like fees in the firm's third quarter grew by 10 per cent, with currencies movements providing a further boost meaning growth of 21 per cent in actual terms.
Both continental Europe and Asia segments grew at 34 per cent in absolute terms, that was 18 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
The UK and Ireland was a performance detractor, shrinking by four per cent. Within this geographical segment private sector fees fell by one per cent but public sector fees fell by 13 per cent.
Why it's interesting
As the UK's largest recruiter, Hays' financial performance is one good indicator of the confidence businesses have in the economy.
The UK performance, particularly in the private sector, contrasted with that reported by rival Robert Walters earlier in the week. It revealed a spike in City hiring and while Hays is coming from a broader perspective, the firm made no reference to a similar positive from its banking clients.
Despite this, it was a record quarter for the firm, which isn't to be sniffed at. This mean it estimates operating profit to be at the top end of its range of between £199m and £209m.
What the company said
Chief executive Alistair Cox said:
We have delivered an all-time quarterly record net fee performance, capitalising on the many growth opportunities around the group.
This gives us confidence to increase our expectations for full year profits, to the top of the current range of market estimates.
"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."