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Harvey Nash to Expand in Asia as Europe Hiring Stalls, CEO Says

Harvey Nash Group Plc (HVN), a U.K. recruiter, said it’s expanding in Asia as demand for permanent staffing in its main European markets continues to soften.

Harvey Nash opened offices in Sydney and Hong Kong earlier this year and expects to open another in Singapore in the next 12 to 18 months to serve southeast Asia, Chief Executive Officer Albert Ellis said in a phone interview today.

“Lots of our large clients are saying they are not hiring in places like France for example,” Ellis said. “We’ve got a number of large multinational companies, and two or three are French global conglomerates, and they are only hiring in Asia. They are not hiring in the home markets in Europe.”

Harvey Nash’s Asian operations employ 1,500 people in Vietnam working on client systems as part of its information technology outsourcing services. The diplomatic tension between Japan and China has led to recent inquiries from Japanese companies exploring locations other than China. Harvey Nash is talking to a large company listed in Japan about a possible transfer of its operations from China to Vietnam, Ellis said.

Reported Results

First-half revenue rose 15 percent to 292.5 million pounds ($475 million), the company said in a statement today. Net income fell 6.7 percent to 2.35 million pounds after one-time costs relating to relocating the London office. Operating profit before non-recurring items rose 11 percent to 4.5 million pounds.

Harvey Nash shares gained 3.2 percent to 60 pence at 12:07 p.m. in London.

“In France, demand has declined, with revenues down 63 percent particularly following the elections,” the company said. Elsewhere in Europe and the U.S., increases in contracting and temporary recruitment offset the weaker outlook in permanent recruitment. Harvey Nash is confident it will meet its full-year targets, according to Ellis.

The executive said its focus on the social media and technology market has shielded it from the worst of the downturn. The company moved its London office from the West End to east of the City of London to be closer to offices of technology companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

“It’s a pretty good performance given the current market environment,” Caroline de la Soujeole, an analyst at London- based Seymour Pierce Ltd., said by phone today. “It shows that the sectors Harvey Nash operates in, which is digital, mobile and social media, are very resilient, dynamic sectors and that’s coming through in their numbers.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Metcalf in London at tmetcalf7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net

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