Post-referendum bounce helps Hays to leap ahead

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RECRUITMENT firm Hays enjoyed a leap in pre-tax profits in its financial first half as the UK job market continued to gather pace.

The company made £77.3 million in the six months to the end of December, while fees were up 10 per cent on a like-for-like basis at £383.9m.

It said conditions had been good across most of its international markets, including areas such as Europe which are suffering from economic stagnation.

The gains were driven by an acceleration in the permanent recruitment market, as “candidate confidence” continued to improve in many countries.

Finance director Paul Venables said the UK had been one of the most buoyant markets, notching up its third straight year of growth with recruitment spearheaded by small and medium sized enterprises.

Fees growth in Scotland was 12 per cent over the six months, compared to the same period a year before – slightly lower than the UK and Ireland as a whole.

Venables said: “There’s no doubt that the independence referendum slowed things down for six weeks or perhaps two months, but we ended the year with very good growth.”

He said the firm’s Scottish business was involved with supplying staff to many large infrastructure projects north of the Border, while IT recruitment had taken off across the UK.

“SME clients are saying they are out of recession and are looking to bolster their IT and software as they position for growth,” he added.

Overseas, much of Hays’ growth is driven by companies that are outsourcing recruitment for the first time.

Hays hiked its interim dividend in response to the higher profits, offering 0.87p a share, up 5 per cent on the same time last year.

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