FEW industries fare worse in a recession than recruitment so Hays was always going to have a tough time, so it is not surprising that a drop in profits of 53 per cent comes in well ahead of most gloomy predictions. Positive notes include a pick-up in job churn, allowing the firm to generate fees without relying on job creation.
More interesting though is the firm’s re-alignment as an international entity. Around 58 per cent of its business, and 83 per cent of its operating profit, comes from outside of the UK and this looks set to increase with new markets opening up in Mexico and the US. In fact, 20 of the firm’s 28 international markets grew net fees by at least 10 per cent in the fourth quarter, indicating its lack of reliance on the sluggish UK market is already paying off. With net fees continuing to grow, driven by 28 per cent growth in Asia Pacific, this seems a good time to climb tentatively back on the recruitment wagon.