Recruitment group Hays reports strong growth in the East

Recruitment group Hays has reported strong growth in regions including the East, London, the Midland

Recruitment group Hays has reported strong growth in regions including the East, London, the Midlands and the North during the three months to the end of March. Photo: VisMedia - Credit: VisMedia

Recruitment firm Hays today said employers had become more cautious about hiring in the run-up to the General Election.

The group, which employs around 8,750 staff in 33 countries, said it grew UK like-for-like sales by 8% in the quarter to the end of March against strong comparatives a year ago.

But it added that while overall “market conditions remain good, we have seen more cautious decision making amongst certain client and candidate segments as we get closer to the upcoming general election.”

Across the group it said net fees lifted by 8%, just below the City’s 9% consensus, which sent shares down by 4%.

In the UK the firm said it registered strong growth in the North, the Midlands, the East and London, all of which grew by more than 10%. The UK and Ireland accounts for 36% of group fees.

It said that IT jobs jumped by 26% in the UK during the period, construction and property lifted by 10%, while its largest specialism - accounting and finance - grew by 6%.

Across the group it said trading was good with 15 or more countries delivering growth of 10% or more, including key markets such as France, China, Japan and the US.

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Chief executive Alistair Cox said: “Looking ahead, we continue to see good levels of net fee growth, many clear opportunities remain and we currently expect to deliver strong operating profit growth for the full year, with second half operating profits slightly ahead of first half.”

The firm added that temporary positions, which account for 59% of net fees, rose by 6% during the quarter. Its permanent business lifted by 11%.

Brokers at Jefferies said that because growth was slightly below consensus due to more cautious decision making ahead of the UK general election it was downgrading the firm’s 2015 full-year targets. It now expects annual pre-tax profit at Hays will be 1% lower at £155.6million.