For the first time in two years, British staff recruitment firm Hays Plc saw its fees grow in the fourth quarter, providing further evidence that the UK job market is starting to improve.
Group net fees increased by a better-than-expected 1% in the three months to 30 June compared with the prior year, driven by improvements in Europe, Asia, and the UK and Ireland.
Total net fees for the final quarter rose 3% and on a like-for-like (LFL) basis increased 1%. Temp fees remained resilient but permanent markets remained fragile globally, the group explained.
Temporary fees increased 6% or 5% on a LFL basis while permanent fell 1% and declined 3% on a LFL basis.
Notably, there was a 7% growth in the UK and Ireland with nine of Hays's 12 regions in the UK recording year-on-year net fee growth. This is comparable to rival Robert Walters, which also delivered 7% UK growth in the quarter ended 31 March.
Chief Executive Alistair Cox said it was good quarterly performance as it focuses on selectively investing in markets where it sees opportunities and expects operating profit for the year to reach the top end of market estimates.
"This approach, combined with the well-diversified, balanced business model we have built, means we've delivered a resilient financial performance for the full year."
"Looking ahead, we expect continued fragile and mixed conditions. Several markets are likely to remain challenging and these will sit alongside clear opportunities for growth," he added"
Hays, which specialises in finance, construction and IT jobs, said full-year operating profit was now likely to be at the top of the current range of market estimates.
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