Recruitment firm Hays said it is witnessing signs of stability in the British and Asian Pacific economies, but warned that 2010 will continue to be a difficult year for recruitment providers.

"Currently we are seeing initial signs of stability in the United Kingdom and Asia Pacific markets, although no indications of a recovery," said Hays chief executive Alistair Cox (pictured). He warned though that mainland Europe was not in the same position, describing the market across the channel as "still experiencing deteriorating conditions"; he puts this down to Europe entering the credit crunch later than the UK. Hays said some markets are showing signs of improvement, in particular education, healthcare, energy and pharmaceuticals.

Hays tempered any cheer though stating "we anticipate that 2010 will be another tough year for our industry," Fees for temporary staff were down seven per cent for the last 12 months ending June 30, 2009 and full time staff placement fees were down 29 per cent. Hays said the second half had been particularly difficult. Pre-tax profits of £151 million were achieved, down from £264m for the same period last year.

In response to the difficulties in its home market, Hays has invested in foreign operations, in particular Russia and India and the international business now accounts for 51 per cent of fees.

Last month Hays rival Michael Page also reported that the recruitment market was "weak" as it reported a pre-tax profit of £43.2 million for the first six months of 2009.