Due to the harmonisation of the labour market laws in the EU. One third (30%) of UK recruitment businesses intend to expand into Europe over the next 12 months whilst 20% are considering expansion into the rest of the world. This process has been accelerated by the recession.

Just 16% currently carry out 25% or more of their business overseas.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, comments: “It’s encouraging that so many UK recruitment businesses have overseas expansion plans despite the uncertain economic outlook. Many overseas staffing markets are relatively immature compared to the UK and are being liberalised so that they’re more accessible to UK staffing companies.”

“Many of the UK recruitment businesses which posted the strongest results during the recession were buoyed by robust performance from overseas operations. For professional recruiters who specialise in high margin skills, geographical expansion can be the best way of increasing turnover while maintaining margins.”

She adds: “It’s interesting that South Africa has come out ahead of India and China as a target for overseas expansion. South Africa has a rapidly expanding middle class and well-established financial and legal markets, which makes it an increasingly attractive market for professional recruitment businesses.”

The APSCo research shows that, with the exception of Italy, few UK recruiters are planning on expanding into European countries associated with the sovereign debt crisis.