Hays 2018 final results
Operating profit up 15% to £243.4m, driven by strong growth in our International businesses. Group Conversion Rate up 50bps to 22.7%(2)
Australia & New Zealand (ANZ): Strong net fee and operating profit growth of 14%, broad-based growth across all Australian regions and specialisms. Record numbers of Temp and Contracting workers
Germany: Record net fees up 16%, with operating profit up 4% (c.17% and c.7% respectively on a trading day-adjusted basis, given three fewer working days(3)). Significant investment in people, offices and systems
UK & Ireland (UK&I): 2% net fee growth, with operating profit up 13% on good cost control, helped by certain IT assets becoming fully depreciated. Market stable overall, despite ongoing economic uncertainty
Rest of World (RoW): Strong net fee growth of 17%, with operating leverage driving excellent profit growth of 51%. 21 markets delivered record net fees including France, the USA, Belgium and China
Significant strategic investments: During the year we continued to invest in our key markets via:
- Consultants: headcount up 8%, driven by Germany and RoW both up 13% YoY as we seek to further capitalise on long-term structural growth opportunities. Canada, China and the USA all up over 20%
- Infrastructure: Three new offices opened in Germany, four in RoW and c.20 office expansions across our global network. IT system enhancements, designed to deliver scale economies, completed in Germany & France
- Technology: Strengthened partnerships with Xing, Google and Stack Overflow, which improve consultant data connectivity. Introduction of new candidate engagement tools, including Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Closing net cash of £122.9m, with strong 100% conversion of operating profit into operating cash flow
Proposed increase in full-year core dividend of 18%, in line with earnings, to 3.81p per share and special dividend of £72.9m (5.00p per share). Total FY18 dividends of £128.4m (2017: £108.2m)
Commenting on the results Alistair Cox, Chief Executive, said:
"2018 was a landmark year for the Group. We successfully completed our ambitious 2013 plan, passed £1 billion in net fees for the first time and 22 countries delivered all-time records. Our RoW business was the standout performer with excellent profit growth of 51%, despite significant investment. We further strengthened our leading positions in key markets like Australia and Germany, and our UK business delivered a good profit performance, despite macro uncertainty. Overall cash generation was excellent, enabling the Board to propose increasing the full year core dividend by 18% and propose the Group's second special dividend, of £72.9 million.
Looking ahead, conditions remain positive in virtually all of our markets. We are investing significantly in key growth markets where we see structural and market share opportunities, notably Germany, France and the USA. We continue to build on our scale and diversity and are focused on driving profitable, cash-generative growth. The sheer scale and diversity of our global platform combined with our highly experienced management teams means we are well-positioned to capitalise on the growth opportunities identified in our 2022 plan."