Hays fees fall but less than in previous quarter

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Hays PLC (LON:HAS) reported that the fall in fees in the past quarter was not as bad as the one before in all geographies.

The international recruiter’s net fees dropped 19% in the three months to end-December, its half-year stage, after a 29% decline in its first quarter.

Roughly £380mln of net cash was collected in the period, versus £350mln in the preceding quarter and £13.2mln in the second quarter a year ago.

An operating profit of around £25mln is expected for the first half.

It is “too early to quantify” the negative impacts of new UK and European lockdowns on the second half of the financial year, said chief executive Alistair Cox.

Hiring markets remain significantly impacted by the pandemic, the company confirmed, though trends improved in both temporary and permanent segments, with an underlying net fee ‘exit rate’ at the end of the quarter running down 16% on a year ago.

The UK and Germany remained the worst performers, down 20% compared to 34% and 31% in the first quarter, while Australia & New Zealand was down 19% and the rest of the world segment was down 16%, versus 26% and 27% respectively.

Broker Liberum said a sequential uplift in second half profitability will require a further significant increase in net fees, given fewer trading days and the company’s investment programme that is expected to see £4mln in the first half rise to £11mln in the second.

Liberum forecasts £59.6mln for the full year, with the City average pointing to £58.6mln.

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