Shares in Hays were down on the FTSE 250 in afternoon trading despite the recruitment company reporting a rise in net fees in the third quarter ended 31 March.

Total fees across the group rose 18 per cent, with the strongest growth in Asia Pacific, where total fees increased 37 per cent. In Continental Europe and the Rest of the World net fees were up 32 per cent, while in Great Britain and Ireland net fees dropped two per cent.

Alistair Cox, Chief Executive of Hays, said, "We have had another quarter of strong and broad based growth led by our International business which grew its net fees by 29%* versus prior year. We recorded excellent growth in Continental Europe, South America and Asia, with another quarter of strong growth in Australia. Overall, 21 countries grew net fees by more than 20%. In the UK, net fees remained broadly stable overall with strong growth in the private sector offset by tough public sector markets.

"Our operations in Queensland, Christchurch and Tokyo have each faced natural disasters of unprecedented scale, but the response and fortitude of our employees there has been a credit to them and to our business. Despite these events the outlook remains positive in nearly all of our markets outside the UK public sector and we continue to invest in consultant headcount, particularly in the International business which grew headcount by 7% in the quarter. The Group now generates nearly two thirds of its fees from the International business.  This extensive platform, together with the investment made across the business, provides the Group with the basis from which to capitalise on the long term structural growth opportunities in our markets."
By 14:35 shares in Hays were down 3.93 per cent on the FTSE 250 to 114.80 pence per share.