Hays driven higher by international growth

Recruitment firm Hays posted solid international fee growth in the second quarter, but its UK arm continues to be held back by Brexit uncertainty.

The firm saw like for like fees in Germany jump 15% in the quarter ending December 31, while rest of the world income shot up 10%. International overall was up 11%.

This was in contrast to the UK, where Hays recorded just a 3% rise in comparable sales, citing “economic uncertainties”.

Scotland and the South East fared worst, with fee income down 15% and 8% respectively.

Brexit uncertainty has dragged on recruitment in the UK as many firms put hiring decisions on hold until a clearer picture of trade relations emerge.

Hays boss Alistair Cox said: “While activity levels at the start of the New Year will be an important driver of the group’s second half performance, and we remain mindful of macroeconomic conditions, the outlook is good across most international markets.

“We continue to invest in key structural growth markets like Germany, the USA and Asia, capitalising on the clear opportunities we are seeing. Our diverse and balanced global business, together with our highly experienced management teams, mean we look to the future with confidence.”

Total fees rose 9% on a like for like basis in the period, with Australia and New Zealand up 8%.

Shares were trading over 2.5% higher in morning trade at 145.4p.

Rahim Karim, analyst at Liberum, said: “We believe that the continued investment in the business is a positive sign of management’s confidence and comes despite the macroeconomic uncertainties.

“At this stage we expect limited changes to consensus profit expectations, with all eyes on the return to work profile over the next two months.”