Hays has forecasted annual profit to be ahead of expectations after hiring activity picked up in some of its key markets last month.
In a trading update the recruitment firm said while fees were down 10 per cent in the third quarter there had been encouraging signs of “strong sequential fee growth”. It now expects operating profit for 2021 to be at least £85m compared with £135m in 2020.
In Germany, Hays’ biggest market, fees were down five per cent with strong momentum through the quarter as business confidence improved. Fees in the UK and Ireland were down 14 per cent while Australia and New Zealand slipped 13 per cent.
“Despite our markets remaining impacted by the pandemic, we continued to see improving momentum across the quarter and I am pleased to say group fees were ahead of our expectations,” chief executive Alistair Cox said. March 2021 fees were four per cent ahead of March 2020 fees, Hays said today.
The company said the second and third lockdowns have had “minimal negative impact” on its fees but March 2021 figures are still 13 per cent lower than March 2019 net fees.
“We are confident we will continue to take further market share as clients and candidates look for our expert recruitment guidance, both during and after Covid,” Cox added.
While the company’s consultant headcount dropped 12 per cent in the previous year, it said it expects to increase hiring by between two and four per cent in the fourth quarter.