- Specialist recruitment company SThree said its net fee revenue slumped 14% in the third quarter to £75.7m, citing the Covid-19 crisis.

Contract net fees for the three months through September had demonstrated some resilience, falling 12%, the company said. But permanent net fees had slumped 20%.

The company said some of its staff had returned from furlough, with all previously claimed furlough support from the UK Government to be repaid.

Chief executive Mark Dorman said the company's focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, sectors had served it well.

'We are pleased to have recorded a resilient performance thanks to the disciplined execution and hard work of our teams,' Dorman said.

'Whilst the year-on-year decline in net fees was marginally greater in the third quarter than the second, there has been an improving underlying sequential performance in the business since the half year.'

'We have seen a significant uptick in general sales activity levels across most regions, improving contractor retention levels and thus a stabilisation of the contractor order book.'

'These performance indicators, together with our strong balance sheet, have allowed us to take a number of positive steps in the period, including the return of some staff from furlough and the return of the money provided to us as part of the UK government's job retention scheme.'

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