But it was optimistic that stability is returning to all its major jobs markets, including banking, and saw modest quarter-on-quarter growth in the UK private sector.
Based on the figures Charles Stanley maintained its “buy” stance on the company, believing momentum in the global economy will stimulate further recruitment activity in 2010.
The UK now only constitutes 45 per cent of Hays’ fee income and global markets look set to thaw more quickly than domestic ones.
The Asia-Pacific region, Australia in particular, looked especially promising, with banking and financial sectors performing well. Net fees in the UK permanent sector were down 39 per cent, like-for-like, while the temps sector fared better at 22 per cent down.
There is expected to be a continued modest reduction in the public sector, which accounts for 39 per cent of Hays’ UK business, due to the ongoing pay-freeze.
Hays’ management of debt has been seen as positive, with the company a total of £40m in the red.
Chief executive Alistair Cox said: “Although specialist recruitment markets continue to be very challenging, candidate and client sentiment have improved over recent months and this is encouraging.”
FAST FACTS | HAYS
• Hays is the UK’s biggest recruitment firm.
• Only 45 per cent of its revenue is from domestic recruitment fees.
• It is a massive provider of permanent and temporary staff to the UK public sector.