Recruiter Hays boosted by overseas growth

City A.M. Reporter
British recruitment firm Hays said it expected full-year operating profit to be at the top end of market estimates, as it posted a better-than-expected 10 per cent rise in third-quarter gross profit helped by strong overseas growth.

Hays, which specialises in placing workers in accountancy, IT and construction jobs, said net fees, also known as gross profit, rose 10 percent in the three months to end-March, helped by a 26 percent net fee rise in its largest division, Continental Europe and the rest of the world.

The group's third-quarter net fee figures came in ahead of a company compiled consensus of 6 percent. The range for full-year 2012 operating profit is between £108m and £130m.

Hays said net fees in its Asia Pacific region grew by 9 percent but reported a five per cent decline in the UK. It said Britain's public sector market remained weak and banking continued to struggle on global economy fears, which were affecting other parts of its business elsewhere too.

"Looking ahead, many parts of the group continue to grow, but ongoing uncertainty about the global economic outlook means that our markets around the world remain complex and far from uniform," chief executive Alistair Cox said in a statement.

Last week rival recruiter Robert Walters said it had made a strong start to 2012 as first-quarter net fees grew 12 per cent, but added that clients and job candidates were still very cautious in uncertain economic times.

On Wednesday Michael Page echoed similar caution, posting a seven per cent rise in first-quarter gross profit but saying that it could see no end to a hiring freeze in the banking sector which has weighed heavily on some markets.