* Year pretax profit 122 mln pounds vs 111 mln
* International net fees up 16 pct; UK down 7 pct
* Warns of slowing markets
* Shares down 7 percent
By Neil Maidment
LONDON, Aug 30 British recruitment firm Hays
said business was getting increasingly tough in many of
its regions and it would struggle to find growth from a
dwindling set of healthy markets in a weak global economy next
Shares in Hays, which specialises in placing workers in
accountancy, construction and IT jobs and makes almost 70
percent of fees overseas, fell 7 percent to 71.2 pence at 1030
The recruitment sector has suffered heavily in the last year
as a deteriorating outlook for the economy and weakness in the
banking sector has led to companies delaying hiring and workers
being more cautious about changing jobs.
Earlier this month, rival recruiter Michael Page
International said it saw no sign of improvement in the
"Our markets over the last 12 months have got progressively
more difficult and a number of them do not have any momentum in
them today," Hays chief executive Alistair Cox said on Thursday.
"That will make it difficult to grow the business in that
environment because the markets today feel worse than they did a
In another sign of weakening confidence, WPP, the
world's largest advertising group, cut its annual growth
forecast on Thursday, saying that customers in the United States
and western Europe were becoming increasingly cautious.
Hays posted an 11 percent rise in pretax profit to 122
million pounds ($194 million) for the year ended June 30, in
line with expectations.
It said it would continue to focus on countries like Brazil,
Australia and IT and engineering-led Germany, which are helping
to ease the pain of many slowing markets elsewhere.
Seymour Pierce analyst Caroline de La Soujeole said she
would likely reduce profit forecasts for 2013: "Whilst this is a
good set of results given the uncertain macroeconomic
background, markets have become increasingly more challenging as
the year progressed which does not augur well for 2013."
Full-year group net fees rose 8 percent to 734 million
pounds on a like-for-like basis, with Brazil and Germany up 30
percent, reflecting a strong international performance. Overseas
fees were up 16 percent overall.
Hays said its British market became increasingly tough as
the year progressed, with net fees down 7 percent as both public
and private sector clients cut jobs and halted hiring as
government austerity measures started to bite.
The company said it had not seen any improvement in a
moribund banking sector, meaning its financial services markets
in Asia and Britain would remain tough. Growth had slowed across
much of continental Europe and in non-resource related work in
The group said it would try to protect profit by continuing
to reduce costs in tougher markets by cutting its own staff.