Friday, 5 June 2009

SThree sees UK ICT recruitment slump near bottom

(By Anthony Miller – Friday 5th June 2009 8:45am). Leading UK ITSA (IT staff agency) SThree, previewed its first-half trading today (see here) and a pretty horrible H1 it was too. Among all its businesses, UK ICT recruitment was the worst performer, with a 61% decline in permanent placements coupled with a “slight softening” in fee rates. SThree’s non-UK business also slowed, but nowhere near as badly; indeed, its fledgling German business is still growing great guns (volumes up 40%) though this time last year it was more like doubling in size. When I asked CEO Russell Clements whether he thought the UK ICT business had yet hit the bottom, he felt it had, or was pretty close to. In any event, he said he’s not expecting to cut any more headcount (25% down in H1).

SThree has tended to be among the more resilient ITSAs with its focus on mid-market contingent resourcing, rather than volume-based, margin-crunching PSL (preferred supplier list) contracts. Its moves beyond IT and also into Europe are proving very beneficial. We shall hear more when the H1 results are published next month.

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