Financials: Hays hit by business confidence and events in certain markets

Recruitment giant Hays has posted a 7% decrease (-4% like for like) in net fee income year-on-year, according to a quarterly update for the quarter to 31 December 2019.

The update, released this morning, reveals NFI fell 12% year-on-year (-9% like for like) in Germany as reduced business confidence took its toll across a number of sectors, while NFI was down 11% in Australia and New Zealand (-7% like for like), attributed to tough private sector markets and the Australian bushfires.

In the UK & Ireland, NFI was down 4% (-4% like for like) on the previous year amid Brexit uncertainty, and there was a mixed performance from the Rest of the World, which saw NFI fall just 1% (+1% like for like) on Q4 2018, with the Americas and Japan witnessing growth offset by flat fees in Asia and China seeing a 9% fall in net fees.

Hays CEO Alistair Cox said: “Growth slowed markedly in December, driven by specific events in key markets: general strikes in France, tragic Australian bushfires and the UK election. Each event impacted markets already facing challenging economic conditions and low business confidence. 

“Germany weakened further, with economic uncertainties driving increased client cost controls. The Americas performed well, with the USA a standout, while Asia was flat. Conditions in the UK remained uncertain, particularly before the election, although the result may provide impetus over time.” 

“The rebound from these events and our New Year ‘return to work’ are thus particularly important, and we are closely monitoring activity levels. Overall, we expect near-term macro conditions to remain difficult, but see continued opportunities for growth in key specialisms like IT.”

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