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Hays delivers 'good quarter' but remains cautious amid Brexit uncertainty

“Our diverse and balanced global business, together with our highly experienced management teams, mean we look to the future with confidence," said chief executive Alistair Cox.
Germany continued to be the key driver of growth for Hays in the second quarter

Recruitment firm Hays PLC (LON:HAS) said it delivered a good second quarter of gross profit growth but remains “mindful” of the uncertainty facing the UK economy as Brexit looms.

In the quarter ended 31 December 2018, net fees – a measure of recruiters’ gross profit – increased 9% on a like-for-like basis, in line with the previous quarter’s growth.

READ: Hays shares drop as first quarter gross profit misses analysts' expectations

The UK and Ireland division achieved a 3% rise in like-for-like net fees despite weaker business confidence in the region, led by a strong performance in its public sector business. 

Germany, the company’s largest market, was the biggest driver of growth with a 15% gain in like-for-like net fees. There were two extra business days in Germany than a year ago due to the timing of public holidays, which gave net fees a boost.

Like-for-like net fees in Australia and New Zealand edged up 8% while the rest of the world grew 10%, supported by a record performance in China.

Looking ahead, chief executive Alistair Cox said: “While activity levels at the start of the New Year will be an important driver of the group's second half performance, and we remain mindful of macroeconomic conditions, the outlook is good across most international markets.

“We continue to invest in key structural growth markets like Germany, the USA and Asia, capitalising on the clear opportunities we are seeing.

 “Our diverse and balanced global business, together with our highly experienced management teams, mean we look to the future with confidence."

Hays had net cash of £30mln at the end of the period after paying final and special dividends, compared to £80mln in September and £34.5mln a year ago. 

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