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Hays sees global growth in Q1

Group consultant headcount was up 9% year-on-year and 5% during the quarter, driven by seasonal increases in September. As a result, increases in Q2 will be selective and minimal overall.

Net debt ended Q1 at c.&pound70m due to the phasing of material cash flows and the unwind of a c.&pound20m benefit due to the timing of the year end date. Hays stated it remaina confident of eliminating net debt by its year end.

Alistair Cox, chief executive officer, said, "We have had a good start to the new financial year, with all three of our key businesses delivering further growth. In Germany, growth accelerated as we capitalised on our recent headcount investments there. The recovery in our Australia business continued, though conditions remained mixed, with strong growth in New South Wales and Victoria contrasted by tough conditions in the mining-focused regions. Despite tougher comparators, UK growth was solid and broad-based, especially in the private sector. Elsewhere around the world we delivered another quarter of strong, consistent growth, as 17 countries grew by 10% or more(1) and eight delivered all-time record quarterly performances.

"Looking ahead, while we continue to see generally consistent conditions overall, the year-on-year comparators become more challenging, notably in the UK and Australia, and we are mindful of current macro-economic risks. Given this backdrop, we remain focused on driving profitable growth in our business. This will involve further targeted investment where we see clear opportunities for growth, and continually working to improve consultant productivity globally in order to deliver our long-term profit and cash objectives."

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