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Hays plc has long been a benchmark company for our industry both globally and locally.

I pay close attention to what they are doing and delivering not just because my first job in recruitment was with Hays (in London) but because I continue to learn from the way the Hays effectively executes its global growth strategy.

Having just spent a couple of hours reading both the Hays 2019 Annual Report and the Hays 2020 Half Year Update it’s clear that, unsurprisingly, Hays have high standards in their external communications team. These documents continue the Hays tradition of presenting relevant information in way in which the reader can both understand the business strategy and see the clear evidence of how the execution of that strategy flows through to results.

Here’s a brief summary of the headline numbers from the Hays 2019 Annual Report as it pertains to the Australian and New Zealand markets

Hays Aus/NZ 2019 results

 20192018One-year change
Net fees$359$347+3.4%
Operating profit$120$1200
Consultant headcount10081000+1%
Perm/temp split of total fees32% perm
68% temp
35% perm
65% temp
Note: the Hays financial year is 1 July – 30 June, all $ figures are AUD millions

In summary it was basically a flat year; an investment in two new offices (Bunbury and Ballarat) and a handful of (net) additional fee earners saw net fee income (perm billings plus temp/contract margin) rise slightly with operating profit remaining stable.

In the half year update for the 1 July 2019 – 31 December 2019 six-month period, Hays reported one additional office opening (Bendigo), the same consultant headcount as six month previously however the top and bottom line results compared to the July – December 2018 period were down. Net fees declined 4 per cent and operating profit dropped 14% (both on a like-for-like basis).

Permanent recruitment suffered most with a 9 per cent decline, compared to only a two per cent drop for temps.

By specialism, Construction & Property (-13%), Office Support (-16%) and Accountancy & Finance (-13%), were all hit hard. Bright spots for growth were in IT (+5%) and HR (+7%).

Hays Aus/NZ 2019 results by specialism

Specialism 20192017*Two-year change
Construction and property$83$52+60%
Office support$47$26+81%
Accountancy and finance$43$33+30%
Resources and mining$14NR
Note: the Hays financial year is 1 July – 30 June, all $ figures are AUD millions, NR = Not released
*the 2017 figures are my estimate based on Hays Asia Pacific net fees-by-specialism and Hays Australia specialism growth data reported in the Hays Annual Report 2017 (page 29).

Across the 2019 financial year, Hays Australia and NZ, led by MD Nick Deligiannis, continued to deliver impressive growth figures in their mature local specialisms. In particular, the performance of the office support specialism shows how much more can be extracted from a very mature, unglamorous and largely forgotten sector with the application of both focus and resources.

In my next blog dissecting the Hays results I will hone in on a specific operational KPI that, I believe, demonstrates how incredibly effective Hays are at both growing profitably in good times and also managing profitably through times of challenge, uncertainty and decline.


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