LONDON: John Condron, ceo of international directories publisher YellGroup blames a climate of fear among US and UK small businesses for his decision to axe around 9% of Yell's 13,900 headcount. He described the company's key customer base as "frozen" with fear at the current economic situation.

Such prudent "fear" has hit Yell hard, its UK, US and Spanish salesforces reporting increasing indecision about ad-spending by small to medium enterprises.

"The expansion we would normally have seen has come to a halt. It's almost as if they are frozen at the moment, with the fear and uncertainty of what lies ahead," said Condron.

As a consequence of which Yell's pretax profits sagged 2.7% to £118.3 million ($185.0m; €144.99m) in the six months to September 30. But Condron insists that cost-cutting will enable the firm to hold its full year guidance of flat earnings.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff