- Recruitment company Hays lifted its outlook on annual profit as improving fees and underlying cost management bolstered performance.

Fiscal 2021 operating profit was expected to be at least £85 million, ahead of the market expectations of about £61 million, the company said.

The upbeat guidance followed a strong end to the third quarter in March, which 'encouragingly delivered our highest period of net fees since the start of the global pandemic,' it added.

March 2021 fees were 4% above March 2020 fees, although remained about 13% below March 2019.

In the third quarter, net fees fell by 10% on a like-for-like basis and 9% on an actual basis versus the prior year.

The 10% decline in Q3 marked a quarterly net fee trend improvement from -34% in Q4 FY20 to -29% in Q1 FY21, and -19% in Q2 FY21.

Look ahead, the company expects headcount would increase by a further 2-to-4% in Q4 FY21.

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