Hays first-half profit climbs 10% to £62.5 million

Recruitment firm says Irish business showing sustained recovery from subdued levels

Recruitment firm Hays has reported a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of December.

The company, which specialises in placing workers in accountancy, construction and IT jobs, posted pre-tax profit of £62.5 million (€75.8 million) for the six months, compared with £56.7 million the previous year.

Turnover from continuing operations was £1.849 billion, flat when compared with 2012, but up 1 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

"Looking ahead we exit the first half with clear momentum in several key markets, and while some areas are likely to remain challenging, there are many opportunities for growth," chief executive Alistair Cox said.

Net fees, a key profit measure in the recruitment industry, increased by 1 per cent to £363 million.

Hays said the UK & Ireland market saw broad-based improvement throughout the half, with net fee growth of 9 per cent, or £10.1 million generating a £9.4 million improvement in operating profit.

“In the UK & Ireland, the return to meaningful fee growth and our focus on driving productivity improvements, combined with the cost actions we completed in 2012, are delivering clear benefits as we converted 93 per cent of incremental net fees into operating profit,” Mr Cox said.

“In Ireland our business continues to show sustained recovery from subdued levels, and delivered net fee growth of 25 per cent in the half.”

The Board recommended an unchanged interim dividend of 0.83 pence per share.