Recruitment firm Hays has hailed a “milestone” year for the firm, declaring its first special dividend on the back of strong international fees, despite a steep fall in the UK market.
Hays’ UK business experienced a “marked step-down” after the European Union referendum last June, with jobs in the private sector hit particularly hard.
Fees for the UK business in the year to June 30 fell by 7pc to £252.9m, despite what the firm called “modest signs of improvement” in the second half.
The company’s finance director Paul Venables had warned last month that while employment in the UK was relatively stable, companies were reluctant to commit to any major hiring sprees while there was political and economic uncertainty.
However, more resilient international markets meant that the company’s operating profit for the year to June 30 was more than £200m – for the first time since 2008. Pre-tax profits were £204.6m, and the firm’s fees for the year stood at £954.6m, up 17.8pc on the previous year.
The firm, which places workers in finance and IT roles, had said in 2015 that it would consider a special dividend as it paid off debts and built a cash surplus. Hays said it ended the last financial year with a net cash position of £111.6m; net debt had been £180m five years ago.