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Hays Pushes Profits Up

(In &pound's million)                 2013       2012       Actual growth   LFL(1) growth

Net fees                           363.4     360.3     1%                       2%

Operating profit             66.7       60.3       11%                     15%

Cash generated                             60.0       49.2       22%      

Profit before tax             62.5       56.7       10%                      

Dividend per share         0.83p     0.83p     0%        

Highlights

•     Strong operating profit performance underpinned by improved productivity and responsive management action

•     UK & Ireland market saw broad-based improvement throughout the half

-   Net fee growth of 9%, or &pound10.1 million generating &pound9.4 million improvement in operating profit

-   Delivery of operating leverage as a result of improved productivity and firm cost control

-   Selective investment in UK headcount to drive future growth

•     Good 6%(1) net fee growth in Continental Europe & Rest of World, driving operating profit growth of 24%(1)

-   Germany up 6%(1), France up 2%(1), Canada up 5%(1) and Russia up 32%(1)

-   13 countries delivered net fee growth of over 10%(1), three countries saw a decline in net fees

•     Asia Pacific net fees decreased 10%(1) Australia tough, Asia showed strong momentum through the half

-   Australia down 17%(1), with Temp sequentially stable in the half, Perm more challenging

-   Excellent growth of 23%(1) in Asia with all five countries growing by over 10%(1)

•     Consultant headcount up 2% year-on-year as we selectively invested to capitalise on clear growth opportunities

•     Good cash performance, with 90% conversion of operating profit into operating cash flow

•     Basic EPS up 19%, reflecting higher operating profit and lower effective tax rate

Commenting on the results Alistair Cox, Chief Executive, said: "We have delivered a strong first half profit performance. We saw conditions improve in several of our key markets as the half progressed, notably in the UK and Asia, and we invested to capitalise on the clear opportunities for growth this presented. Our ability to quickly respond to changing conditions, combined with our unrivalled sector coverage, mix of contract type and market-leading positions in both mature and structural growth countries, sets us apart in today's market.

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% of incremental net fees into operating profit. Elsewhere, we have invested to drive growth in markets with clear momentum such as Asia, and we have continued to act quickly to reduce costs in those parts of the Group which remain challenging, such as Australia and Brazil, to best defend our financial performance.

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. We will continue to react quickly to changing market conditions, investing in stronger markets while reducing costs where market conditions or outlook are more uncertain. Our focus remains on ensuring the Group is positioned to deliver on our long-term objectives to materially grow and diversify the business whilst driving our profits along the way."

(1)  LFL (like-for-like) growth represents organic growth of continuing operations at constant currency.

(2)  The underlying Temp gross margin is calculated as Temp net fees divided by Temp gross revenue and relates solely to Temp placements in which Hays generates net fees and specifically excludes transactions in which Hays acts as agent on behalf of workers supplied by third party agencies.

(3)  Average consultant headcount for the six months ended 31 December 2013 compared to the average consultant headcount for the six months ended 31 December 2012.

(4)  Exchange rate as at close 24 February 2014:  &pound1 / &euro1.2128 &pound1 / AUD1.8436.

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