Shares in Hays were down on the FTSE 250 in morning trading after the recruitment company reported net fee growth of over 20 per cent in the quarter ended 31 December.

Total net fee growth was 24 per cent, while like for like net fee growth was 21 per cent.

The strongest growth came from the group's Asia-Pacific region with total net fees rising 53 per cent and like for like net fees increasing 36 per cent.

In Europe and the Rest of the World total net fees climbed 33 per cent while like for like net fee growth was 37 per cent. In Britain and Ireland total and like for like net fee growth was one per cent.

During the quarter net debt was reported as rising from £100 million to £125 million.

Alistair Cox, Chief Executive of Hays, said, "The breadth and strength of growth this quarter is reflected by the fact that 19 countries grew net fees by more than 20% versus prior year. Collectively the International business grew net fees by 37% versus prior year and several of our country businesses in Asia and Europe are now operating back above their pre-downturn levels. The outlook remains good across nearly all of our markets, including the UK private sector, and we continue to increase consultant headcount in order to capture the opportunities for growth.

"During the quarter we launched operations in Mexico and the United States, continuing the investment we have made in our International platform over the past 10 years. Today 65% of the Group's net fees are from the International business and this, together with the investments we have made in the business, places us ideally to benefit from the long term structural growth opportunities in our markets."

By 09:55 shares in Hays were down 1.09 per cent on the FTSE 250 to 126.50 pence per share.