Recruiter Hays Plc posted an 80 percent drop in full year pretax profit, hit by tough trading conditions in the first half.

Hays, which places people in white collar jobs, said it made a pretax profit of 29.7 million in the year to June 30, against 151 million pounds last year.

However, the company said the UK private sector job market was improving.

After a tough first half, we returned to growth in the second half ... The outlook across 90 percent of our markets, including the British private sector, continues to improve, Chief Executive Alistair Cox said in a statement on Thursday.

Permanent job placements declined by 26 percent, with fees for each person placed in a permanent job also down by 8 percent because of very difficult market conditions, the company said.

Hays emphasised its growth in Asia was strong and had enabled it to achieve growth in the second half of 2009.

Shares in Hays last traded at 92.7 pence, valuing the company at around 1.2 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Golnar Motevalli; Editing by Matt Scuffham)