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Extraordinary Year Says SThree

SThree, has announced its final results for the year ended 30 November 2008.

Financial Highlights

m

2008

2007

Change

Revenue

631.5m

522.7m

20.8%

Gross Profit (Fee Income)

218.9m

182.7m

19.8%

Operating profit*

56.8m

52.3m

8.6%

Profit before taxation*

56.0m

50.3m

11.3%

Statutory profit before taxation

54.1m

50.3m

7.4%

Basic earnings per share*

29.9p

25.2p

18.7%

Proposed final dividend

8.0p

6.2p

29.0%

Total dividend

12.0p

9.3p

29.0%
* Current year operating profit, profit before taxation and EPS are shown before exceptional charges of 2m before tax, 1.4m after tax, in respect of the early close out of foreign exchange derivative transactions, which were entered into in 2007.

Operational Highlights

Significant volume growth achieved whilst maintaining gross margins - gross profit increased by 19.8% to 218.9m

Permanent placements increased by 7.0% to 10,236 (2007: 9,568), with average fees increased by 5.9%

Number of active contractors at year end increased by 1.5% to 5,745 (2007: 5,662) with average gross profit per day rates increasing by 9.7%

Contract versus Permanent mix of gross profit now 52:48 in favour of Contract, providing us with an excellent ''cash hedge'' in challenging market conditions

Excellent further progress made with roll-out of new sector disciplines (accountancy, banking & finance, human resources, engineering, pharmaceuticals and energy), resulting in non-ICT gross profit increasing by 55.2% to 50.5m (2007: 32.5m), representing 23.1% of total gross profit

59% of gross profit now derived from outside of the UK ICT market

International business performed particularly strongly, growing by 64% to 97.4m (2007: 59.3m), representing 45% of the Group total (2007: 32%)

UK gross profit declined slightly by 1% to 121.6m (2007: 123.3m), reflecting a weaker UK market and impact of financial markets crisis

Year end net cash of 24.6m (2007: 3.5m) despite significant cash out flows on share buy-backs, an increased dividend and a growing contractor book, reflecting our strong cash generation

New offices opened in existing geographies (Aberdeen, Paris and Amsterdam) and new geographies (Dubai and Sydney). Further new offices in Singapore, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Marseilles to be opened in H1 of 2009

Total headcount increased by 11.7% to 2,274 (2007: 2,035) at year end. Sales consultant headcount increased to 1,684 (2007: 1,537) up 9.6% with net new staff hired only for new geographies and/or new sectors

31.3m returned to shareholders via share buy backs during the year, representing 13.6% of the issued share capital as at 30 November 2008, funded from cash flows from operating activities.

Russell Clements, CEO, commented: "2008 was, by any standards, an extraordinary year. In particular, the second half of the year was influenced by the enormous upheavals in global financial markets and the inevitable uncertainty that such events bring to the recruitment market place.

"Given these exceptional circumstances, it is pleasing to be once again in a position to report on another year of growth and significant further progress towards the Group's strategic objectives. SThree ends the 2008 financial year a more international and more diversified business than at any time in its twenty-two year history.
"We enter 2009 with our eyes open, mindful of the risks and challenges ahead. Nonetheless, we are confident that as a business we are particularly well suited to emerge from the current difficult period in excellent shape to take advantage of the inevitable market recovery, whenever it may materialise."

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