Annual profits at Hays are set to come in at the top of City expectations, the white-collar recruiter has said. But Alistair Cox, the chief executive of the jobs giant that employs almost 8,000 staff of its own, warned: "We expect conditions to remain fragile."
Hays' net fees slipped by 3 per cent in the three months to April, with its Asia Pacific unit – which brings in more than a quarter of the company's business – facing a 15 per cent fall in revenues. UK and Ireland earnings were flat, failing to grow at all in the past three months compared with the same time a year earlier.
Only Hays' continental Europe business grew in the quarter – up 5 per cent. That helped the whole business, as Hays' offices in continental Europe and the rest of the world bring in more than 40 per cent of net fees.
The recruiter said Germany saw strong performances in accountancy and finance, while construction, life sciences, IT and engineering were also strong.
In January, Hays claimed it had "turned the corner" in the UK, but that was not much in evidence in the figures. Over the past three months revenues in the UK and Ireland saw "modest" improvement, Hays said, driven by a rise in temporary posts – but while fees from public sector jobs shot up 17 per cent in the quarter, it saw a 6 per cent decline in revenues from public sector positions.