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This Key Note Market Report examines the UK permanent recruitment market, including companies that engage in both general and executive permanent appointments. The report comes at a particularly difficult time for the recruitment industry as, in response to the economic downturn that began in the last quarter of 2007, many companies have made staff cutbacks and frozen their recruitment plans. In November 2008, the online jobsite Monster.co.uk reported that employers were forecasting a bleak outlook for the first quarter of 2009, claiming it would be the weakest January to March period in terms of staff hiring for 15 years (since the end of the last recession in the early 1990s).According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the UK permanent recruitment market was worth £4.28bn in the year ending March 2008, and the number of permanent placements stood at nearly 727,000. The market was very strong in 2007, but began to falter after February 2008 as the outlook for the economy became increasingly uncertain. In the last quarter of 2008, the market contracted each month, and the drop in staffing needs had a negative impact on almost every sector of the economy, with financial services, construction, property, retailing and secretarial/administrative jobs being the worst-affected industries. The major firms operating in the permanent recruitment market include: Adecco UK Ltd; Alexander Mann Group Ltd; Hudson Global Resources Ltd; Impellam Group PLC; Matchtech Group PLC; Michael Page International PLC; Modis International Ltd; Morson Group PLC; NES Group Ltd; Robert Walters PLC; Rullion Ltd; Spring Group PLC; and SThree PLC.A large amount of corporate activity took place in 2008. For example, Adecco made a bid to buy Michael Page — this was not successful, but the company may come back and make a hostile bid in 2009, or it may well seek to buy another high-margin specialist recruiter. In addition, Carlisle Group and Corporate Services Group merged in 2008 to form Impellam Group PLC. More mergers and acquisitions are expected in 2009 as margins and profits in this industry are weakening, which will threaten hundreds of recruitment firms.One positive message for the recruitment industry can be drawn from the results of a 2008 survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which revealed that a higher percentage of employers were using recruitment firms than was the case in its 2007 survey. The use of executive search firms had also increased, according to the survey.Key Note forecasts that the value of the UK permanent recruitment market will fall by 7% in 2009, but will begin to recover in 2010 and 2011. Returning the economy to full prosperity will take time after the recession comes to an end, and meanwhile the recruitment industry is likely to undergo a period of restructuring.