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Hays announce continued good performance in temp & perm markets

&middot      Asia Pacific net fees were flat. Australia net fees decreased by 7%, but we have seen broad-based stability in activity levels for the last 6 months. Asia delivered further excellent growth of 27%

&middot      Group consultant headcount was up 3% during the quarter and increased by 6% year-on-year as we continued to invest to capitalise on positive market conditions around the world

&middot      We reiterate the guidance issued at Q3 when we upgraded full year operating profit expectations to around &pound140m

Financial summary

Growth in net fees for the quarter ended 30 June 2014 (Q4 FY14)

(versus the same period last year)

Growth

Actual

LFL(1)

By region

 

Asia Pacific

(13)%

0%

Continental Europe & Rest of World

1%

7%

United Kingdom & Ireland

11%

11%

Total

0%

7%

 

 

By segment

 

Temporary

1%

8%

Permanent

(1)%

5%

          Total

0%

7

Commenting on the Group's performance, Alistair Cox, chief executive, said, "We have delivered another good set of quarterly results to end our financial year as we continued to capitalise on good conditions in many of our key markets. In the UK & Ireland we delivered strong and broad-based net fee growth, including Perm growth of 17% as candidate confidence remained strong. Elsewhere we saw the continued recovery of many European, Asian and American markets and ten of our businesses delivered record monthly net fees in the quarter, including key businesses such as Canada and Japan.

Looking ahead we see clear growth opportunities for the Group and therefore during the quarter we increased consultant headcount by 3%, the highest quarterly rise since September 2011. We will continue to invest to capture all opportunities for growth and maintain our focus on driving productivity to deliver on our long-term profit and cash objectives."

Group

In the fourth quarter ended 30 June 2014 net fees were flat on a headline basis and increased 7% on a like-for-like basis against the prior year. The difference between the actual growth and like-for-like growth rates was primarily the result of a material depreciation in the rate of exchange between both the Australian Dollar and the Euro against Sterling. The timing of Easter generated a c.1% reduction in the Group's year-on-year net fee growth rate in the quarter, reversing the benefit experienced in Q3. Net fees in the Temp business, which accounted for 59% of Group net fees in the quarter, increased by 8% and the underlying temp margin was broadly stable. Net fees in the Perm business increased by 5%.

The exit rate of overall Group net fee growth was broadly in line with the quarter as a whole.

Consultant headcount was up 3% in the quarter and increased by 6% year-on-year.

We expect full year operating profit to be around &pound140m, reiterating the upgrade to guidance given at our Q3 Interim Management Statement.

Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, which represented 24% of Group net fees, net fees were flat(1).

In Australia & New Zealand net fees decreased by 5%(1) but we have now seen broad-based stability in activity levels for six months. Temp net fees, which represented 69% of net fees in the quarter, decreased by 4%(1) but have now been sequentially stable for twelve months. Perm net fees decreased by 9%(1) as candidate activity remained stable but subdued.

In Australia net fees decreased by 7%(1), within which net fees in New South Wales and Victoria, which together accounted for 51% of our business, decreased by 4%(1). In Western Australia and Queensland, which together accounted for 31% of our business, net fees decreased by 13%(1). In New Zealand, we saw strong net fee growth of 18%(1).

In Asia, which accounted for 22% of the division, net fees increased by 27% and the region reported a record quarterly net fee performance. Hong Kong and China both delivered excellent net fee growth of 45% or more while Malaysia and Singapore both reported strong net fee growth of over 10%. Japan, our largest business in Asia, delivered excellent net fee growth of 20% and had a record monthly net fee performance in June.

Consultant headcount in the division was up 1% in the quarter and up 3% year-on-year. In Australia & New Zealand, consultant headcount was flat in the quarter and down 2% year-on-year. In Asia, consultant headcount was up 3% in the quarter and up 16% year-on-year.

Continental Europe & Rest of World ('RoW')

In Continental Europe & RoW, our largest division which represented 41% of Group net fees, we delivered good net fee growth of 7%(1). Net fee growth of 7%(1) in Germany was good, driven by solid growth of 5%(1) in our core IT & Engineering business and continued strong growth in our newer specialisms including Accountancy & Finance which grew by 21%(1). Overall Temp net fees were up 8%(1) and Perm net fees decreased by 1%(1).

Net fees increased by 7% in the rest of the division, which is primarily a Perm business. Within this, 12 countries delivered net fee growth of 10% or more including key businesses such as Belgium and Poland which both grew by 15% and reported record monthly net fee performances during the quarter. The Netherlands grew by 10%, while France, which is our second largest business in the division, delivered a good performance with net fees up 7%.

Consultant headcount in the division was up 2% in the quarter and 3% year-on-year.

United Kingdom & Ireland

In the United Kingdom & Ireland, which represented 35% of Group net fees, we delivered further strong net fee growth of 11%. Our Temp business delivered good growth of 7% and our Perm business delivered strong growth of 17% as we saw continued strong candidate confidence. Activity levels were strong and broad-based as all regions delivered year-on-year net fee growth. We saw particularly strong performances from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North, North West, Midlands, the East of England, the South Coast and the Home Counties, all of which grew by more than 10%. Ireland again performed well and delivered strong net fee growth of 12%.

In our private sector business, net fees increased by 12%. Overall market conditions saw further improvement, with Construction & Property and IT both delivering excellent growth of around 20%. Net fees in our largest specialism of Accountancy & Finance grew by 17%, within which our Senior Finance business grew by 18%. Our public sector business again delivered good net fee growth of 8%, including a strong performance in our Education business.

Consultant headcount in the division was up 5% in the quarter and up 12% year-on-year as we invested to capitalise on the clear, strong opportunities for growth.

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