June 15, 2020 / 6:26 AM / a month ago

SThree reports fall in net fees as coronavirus takes toll on hiring

(Reuters) - British recruiting firm SThree (STEMS.L) reported a 7% fall in half-year net fees on Monday, with its UK and Japan businesses taking the biggest hit, as companies refrained from hiring new employees during the health crisis.

The recruitment industry has been reeling under the pressure of a hiring freeze as governments impose lockdowns to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, SThree ceased all recruiting activities in April, cut its dividend and slashed management pay to cushion the blow.

“Whilst lockdowns are currently being eased to differing extents globally, we still see heightened uncertainty continuing for some time,” said Mark Dorman, chief executive officer of SThree.

The company, which hires employees for finance, energy, banking, pharmaceutical, engineering and tech sectors, said net fees earned for the six months to May 31 was 151.2 million pounds compared with 163 million pounds reported a year ago.

“With lockdown impacting the majority of the quarter, we see this as a very resilient performance,” Liberum analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi said.

SThree, which posted a decline in fees earned across all its regions, said net fees in Japan and UK fell 24% and 14%, respectively, in the six months.

Its peers PageGroup Plc (PAGE.L), Robert Walters (RWA.L) and Hays (HAYS.L) have also taken some extreme steps to weather the coronavirus outbreak by cutting jobs, furloughing staff and slashing board pay, among other things.

(This story has been refiled to correct spelling of Dorman in paragraph 3)

Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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