Growth in Ireland and UK jobs markets boosts recruitment firm Hays
BRITISH staff recruitment firm Hays Plc saw its fees grow in the fourth quarter in Ireland and the UK for the first time in two years, providing further evidence that the job market is starting to improve.
Group net fees in the three months to June 30 rose a stronger-than-expected 1pc against the same period last year, driven by strength in Europe, Asia and the UK & Ireland.
Finance director Paul Venables said the 7pc growth in UK & Ireland - which accounts for 32pc of group fees -was a sign of a wider rebound across the domestic jobs market.
"It's the first growth we've achieved in the UK for two years. The growth is quite diversified across the UK...and we've got what seems to be the start of a more broad-based recovery," he said.
This backed up several recent indices showing UK permanent jobs rose at their fastest pace for two years in June, while demand for staff was at a three-year high.
Nine of Hays' 12 UK regions delivered year-on-year net fee growth.
While Asia and Continental Europe were also positive, the firm said conditions ahead were "fragile and mixed".
Australia remained weak as the key mining sector struggled, which saw job adverts fall for the fourth straight month in June.
Hays, which specialises in finance, construction and IT jobs, said full-year operating profit was now likely to be at the top of the current range of market estimates. Preliminary results are set to be announced on August 29.
Analysts had on average been forecasting operating profit of £122m (€141m) for 2013, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.
However, estimates from analysts compiled by Hays predict 2013 full-year net fees of £719.5m, which would be the first annual drop since 2010.
Shares in Hays were up 3.0pc to 97.6 pence around 0830 GMT, having risen 19pc so far this year, outperforming the broader FTSE All Share index.
Rivals Robert Walters and Michel Page International are set to release quarterly results later this month.