International growth drives Hayes profits up by 50pc

Recruiter Hays said it would continue to focus on international markets, where strong demand helped deliver a 50 per cent rise in its full-year profit, in the face of slowing growth in the UK's private sector.

Hays, which specialises in placing office workers such as accountants and secretaries, on Thursday posted pretax profit before exceptional items for the year of £106.6m, in line with market expectations and up from £71.1m a year earlier.

The group's net fees rose 21 per cent to £672.1m, with two-thirds of the total now coming from outside the UK.

"Whilst we remain mindful of the continuing economic and fiscal uncertainty around the world, we continue to see good levels of momentum across most of our markets," Hays said in a statement.

Australia & New Zealand and Asia were delivering good growth, it said, and Germany was leading demand in Continental Europe.

The UK, however, had seen slowing levels of growth in the private sector and continued tough but broadly stable markets in the public sector.

Earlier this month rival recruiter Michael Page warned of a slowdown in a banking sector struggling with turbulent financial markets as it missed analysts' interim pretax profit forecasts.