Hays UK dip offset by overseas boost

RECRUITMENT group Hays yesterday posted a 16 per cent jump in net fees, led by its strong international business, and said its outlook was positive in nearly all markets outside of the struggling UK public sector.

Hays, which specialises in placing office workers such as accountants and secretaries, said it had seen excellent growth in continental Europe, South America and Asia for the third quarter to the end of March.

The FTSE 250 listed company generates nearly two thirds of its business from outside the UK.

In the UK, an 18 per cent rise in net fees in the private sector – boosted by construction and IT businesses – contrasted with a 37 per cent drop in the public sector, which has been hit by cuts.

Hays finance director Paul Venables said: “I think in the [UK] public sector and in our business I would expect to see the next two years to be bumbling along the bottom, so we don’t expect to see growth.”

He said that public sector authorities have not been replacing people and candidate confidence has been so low that people have not been moving jobs.

“Overall we are about 50 per cent down [from peak levels], but if you look outside of the frontline services of education and healthcare we are about 65 per cent down.”

Hays said the combined impact of the natural disasters in Australia, New Zealand and Japan was estimated to have reduced group net fee growth by one per cent this quarter.