Recruitment company Hays said profit fell more than a fifth as net fees slipped on increased uncertainties and reduced business confidence across most of its main businesses. For the first six months ended 31 December, pre-tax profit fell 22% to £95.5m as net fees slipped 3% to £553.1m on-year. Net fees in the UK, Germany, Australia & New Zealand businesses slipped 4%, 5% and 4% respectively. In the rest of world business, net fees grew 2%, but operating profit fell 20%, impacted by 'a marked deceleration in fee growth in China through the half, a sharp slowdown in France in December and strategic investment in our IT specialism and property,' the company said. The company maintained its interim dividend of 1.11p. 'We expect near-term macro conditions to remain difficult and are mindful of continuing uncertainties, including the coronavirus,' Hays said. 'While our focus will be on cost management, we also see growth opportunities, for example in the IT sector globally and in the USA, and we will continue to invest in them.' At 8:22am: (LON:HAS) Hays PLC share price was -1.75p at 160.55p
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