Thursday 21 February 2019 9:41 am

Investors afraid German economic slowdown will hit recruiter Hays Group

Recruitment firm Hays Group shares fell 6.9 per cent this morning amid fears of a German slowdown, despite announcing rising profits and revenues.

The company also admitted it was battling “economic uncertainties” in the UK, but that other global markets were strong in its interim results

The figures

Operating profit for the six months to 31 December rose to £124.1m, up seven per cent year-on-year from £116.5m. Turnover was up from £2.8bn to £3.0bn.

Earnings per share rose nine per cent from 5.39p to 5.86p, while it shrunk its net debt from £2.6m to £1.5 million year-on-year.

Why it’s interesting

Recruiters have struggled with the uncertainty which has gripped the country in the run up to Brexit, with several industries reporting record shortages of staff.

Last month, for example, it emerged manufacturers were struggling with the worst drought of workers in 30 years, as fewer EU workers come into the country in the wake of the Brexit vote.

A German economic slowdown has also hit the firm, with that being its biggest market. Analysts at Liberum said: “Although not massive in the context of the recent share price performance, we expect investors to pay particular attention to the outlook for the group's largest region, and anticipate this being the focus of this morning's analyst presentation.”

What Hays Group said

Alistair Cox, chief executive, said: “We have delivered another good first half, and despite increasingly tough comparatives are pleased to report 9% net fee and profit growth.”

“Looking ahead, although we remain mindful of continuing macroeconomic uncertainty, the outlook in the vast majority of our markets remains positive.

“Our second half focus will be on driving consultant productivity, while selectively investing in our key markets to build on our existing scale, balance and diversity. Our financial strength and highly experienced management teams stand us in good stead for the future.”