AWF Madison Group, the country's biggest contract labour firm, said first-half profit fell 13 per cent after what it said were "difficult winter conditions in the construction market".

Profit fell to $3.4 million in the six months ended September 30 from $3.9m a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Sales rose 20 per cent to $143m.

AWF flagged a weaker first half last month, when it cited a decline in construction activity and said "the wet winter has reduced chargeable hours" for its construction and civil customers.

Today it reiterated that view, saying it had "softer sales at its blue-collar recruiter AWF" as timing and weather issues saw building and maintenance activity ease off after the June quarter.


"Despite a disappointing trading performance from AWF, the strength of our cash generation and current activity levels give us confidence we will deliver a good financial performance for the full March 2018 year," said chief executive Simon Bennett.

That would be helped by the start of work on the 2018 Census contract in the second half, he said.

The jump in revenue reflected "a strong performance" from its IT recruiter, Absolute IT, while sales for its white-collar recruiter Madison fell, the company said.

The company will pay a fully-imputed interim dividend of 8 cents a share, unchanged from a year earlier, on November 27 to shareholders registered on November 20, it said.

The shares last traded at $2.40 and have declined 7.7 per cent this year.