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Recruiter Hays reports flat net fees for fourth quarter

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(Reuters) – Recruiter Hays Plc <HAYS.L> saw no growth in net fees in the fourth quarter as weak hiring in Australia, New Zealand and Britain offset strong performance in its biggest market Germany.

Hays, which is largely focused on hiring for white collar roles, said comparable net fees in the UK & Ireland, its second biggest market, slipped 2% and Australia and New Zealand fell 3% in the fourth quarter ended June 30.

Recruiters like Hays have become important barometers of the economy, especially in Britain, as doubts about the timing and shape of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union weigh on decision making by companies and candidates for jobs.

The staffing company said its net fees in Europe’s largest economy, Germany, grew 2% in the quarter, although there were signs of client cost control and slower decision-making, especially in the manufacturing and automotive sectors. Germany makes up 25% of the company’s fees.

Brokerage Jefferies said in a note that net fees in Australia, New Zealand and Britain were slightly below its expectations and said growth in day-adjusted net fee growth was below a market consensus of 3%.

Hays had warned in February of a weakening in contractor extensions in Germany as the country reported its weakest rise in GDP in five years.

It also said in January that growth in Britain was clearly lower than before the vote to leave the European Union three years ago.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Patrick Graham)

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