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Hays Plc (HAS:LSE), the specialist recruitment group, has today published a trade updating for the fourth quarter of 2009 ended 31 December.
Like-for-like (LFL) organic net fee growth at constant currency was down by -30% in Q4 2009 compared to the same period last year. Permanent staffing LFL net fee growth was down by -39% whilst temporary staffing LFL net fee growth was down by -22%.
Hays Chief Executive Alistair Cox, said "although specialist recruitment markets continue to be very challenging, candidate and client sentiment have improved over recent months and this is encouraging for future trends in the business. We are currently seeing stability in demand in all our major markets. In Asia Pacific, we have seen a return to sequential growth in demand, albeit at a modest rate."
"We have now successfully implemented our new IT database system in the UK and in a number of the International businesses. This provides us with an industry leading technology platform and, together with a strong global brand and experienced management team, will enable us to continue to win new accounts and take market share."
Net fees were broadly flat quarter-on-quarter with signs of improving trends towards the end of the period.
Net fees in the private sector business were down -33% as market conditions across all of markets remained tough, although net fees were sequentially higher than the quarter ended 30 September 2009.
Net fees in the public sector business decreased by -17% this period, which represented a small sequential decline versus the last quarter.
During the quarter, the level of headcount was broadly flat across the business and is now increasing selectively where market trends are favourable.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the group has seen quarter-on-quarter stability in net fees. Modest sequential growth in demand in the private sector business has been offset by a decline in public sector business, particularly in administrative and non-front line placements. During the quarter headcount remained broadly flat.
In Asia Pacific, there was modest quarter-on-quarter net fee growth. This has been driven by sequential growth in demand in the private sector business across all countries in the region, which more than offset the decrease in the public sector business. There was a small increase in headcount in the quarter following selective investment.
In Continental Europe and RoW, quarter-on-quarter net fees remained broadly flat as the group saw stability in demand across most countries in the region. The German business, which is primarily focused on the IT contracting market, recorded a small sequential increase in net fees this period, whilst net fees in the principally permanent placement businesses remained broadly stable. Headcount was flat during the quarter.
In early trading Hays's shares were down by -1.28% to 108.10 Pence