Recruitment firm Hays has said the UK job market weakened “significantly” around the time of the EU referendum, as it boosted annual profit as growth in its international markets.
The FTSE 250 firm said it saw “more uncertainty across the UK market” this year, adding that “in the period leading up to, and immediately after, the EU Referendum and we saw activity levels weaken significantly at the end of the financial year.”
It added that at its UK business profits grew 14 percent despite the fact that net fees were flat, due to higher productivity and tighter cost control.
The company also said it had seen “no evidence” of any impact of the vote in markets outside the UK.
In the UK, Hays said net fees were flat, with trading “more challenging” towards the end of its financial year, which coincided with the run-up to the EU referendum.
Conditions were particularly challenging in local government and healthcare markets in the UK.
Hays also said conditions were tough in banking in the City of London, and there were weakening trends in the construction and property business towards the end of the financial year.
Hays chief executive Alistair Cox said:
“Following the EU referendum, there is increased uncertainty in the UK market, but we have seen no evidence of any impact elsewhere.
“It is too early to tell what the longer term impact may be and as ever, we will monitor activity levels closely.”
“We delivered strong, broad-based net fee growth in our international businesses, with 22 countries growing by 10% or more, and an excellent UK profit performance.”
“We enter our new year in a position of strength, with a diverse, balanced and resilient global business, the strongest balance sheet we have had for many years and supportive conditions in many of our markets.”
The UK comprises about a third of Hays’ business. It employs about 9,200 people across 33 countries.