Hays chief executive, Alistair Cox, has said that the post-Brexit shock was fading slowly after the leading recruiter was shaken by a 29% decrease in UK operating profits for the six-month period after the vote. Net fees fell by 10% to £126.1 million.
“There was a stepdown in activity after the referendum but we saw a rapid return to stability in the UK and early signs of improvement in permanent recruitment towards the end of the year — that has continued. It’s still a tough market but we will start to see that decline temper over time,” Cox said.
Hays’ worst-performing region was London, where fees were down by 15%. Costs were cut by not replacing consultants who left the business, driving staff numbers down 10% to 1978 employees.
Temporary hires account for most of Hays’ UK placements, and three-quarters are found work in the private sector.
Salary rises were generally keeping pace with inflation said Cox, but in some sectors such as IT, wages were increasing by double digits.
The firms other job-hiring locations of France, Germany and Australia had cushioned the UK decline, helping first-half operating profits to push above £100 million for the first time in their 28 years on the market.
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