Banking sector woes drive UK loss at jobs group Hays

THE boss of recruitment firm Hays today said there was still evidence that bankers were heading overseas as hiring in the sector fell around 10% and helped push its UK division to a �3million loss.

Chief executive Alistair Cox said the recruitment squeeze in the banking industry would persist for “some time” and had spread beyond the UK to markets such as Hong Kong as major players restructure their operations.

The recruiter’s results come as the banking industry faces pressure from all sides, as it battles with volatile markets, weak consumer confidence, increased regulatory heat and criticism over pay.

The slowdown, which was behind a 1% drop in private sector fees, which make up 78% of UK revenues, prompted Hays to close 12 UK outlets, cutting its total headcount by 4%, including a 2% drop in the number of consultants to 2,071.

The downturn in the UK, where Hays’ office network includes branches in Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds and Chelmsford, also had an impact on public sector recruitment, which represents 22% of the country’s revenues and saw fees fall 18% year on year.

However, Hays said there were areas of the private sector which continue to show some growth, such as IT, legal and marketing businesses.

Overall in the UK, net fees fell 6% on a like-for-like basis to �116.4m. But the wider group was supported by a strong performance overseas, particularly in Germany, leading to a 21% increase in overall operating profit to �63.1m.

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Across the group, net fees rose 11% to �373.8m on a like-for-like basis.