British firms are likely to delay hiring decisions ahead of a referendum on EU membership, the head of recruitment firm Hays said, adding growth in other parts of the world should offset any weakness.
Chief executive Alistair Cox said he was mindful of the effects that Britain’s June 23 referendum would have on his clients but Hays maintained a positive outlook after it posted an 8% rise in underlying net fees in the first half of its financial year.
The company, which places workers in areas such as finance, construction and IT, said it had seen strong growth from regions like continental Europe and the rest of the world, though Britain and Australia slowed by the end of 2015.
The cautious note weighed on Hays’ shares which fell 6% at one stage yesterday and are down 20% this year. “There is uncertainty around the world, every time there’s any election there will be a period where clients and candidates step back and slow down their decision making,” said Mr Cox. “We saw it with the Scottish referendum, we saw it with the (UK) general election, and I’m sure we will see it with an EU referendum,” he said.
Group net fees rose to £397m (€507.8m) for the six months to the end of December, an 8% rise on a like-for-like basis. The UK and Ireland posted net fee growth of 3%.
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