Venables, speaking to Shares after Hays' full year results to end June, says better-than-expected conditions in its UK and Europe segments had helped push the plan ahead of budget.
The £1.8 billion cap posted earnings per share (EPS) of 6.13p and pre-tax profit of £132.3 million, both roughly in line with market expectations. Its shares traded up around 1% at [130p] midday in a falling general market.
'We've had a good first year but there's a long way to go,' Venables says, adding that the target is achievable assuming a continued global economic recovery and 'manageable' shocks.
As well as reporting earnings which were slightly ahead of plan, cash flow was also strong with 125% of operating profit converted into operating cash. Improved management of working capital added £6 million to Hays' bank balance in the period.
Net debt declined £42.5 million to £62.7 million and Hays is expected to be debt-free by the end of 2015. The company's policy will be to distribute excess cash via special dividends when net cash exceeds £50 million, though Venables does not rule out using some of the surplus cash for an acquisition.
'I've been here for eight years and we've done one acquisition; I would guess it to be somewhat the same again in the future” he says. 'Acquisitions are not the core part of our plan.'