6 July 2023

Robert Walters Group releases Q2 2023 trading update

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The Robert Walters Group today announced its Q2 2023 trading update for the quarter ended 30 June 2023.

Toby Fowlston, Chief Executive, commented: “As reported in our June trading update, candidate confidence and time to hire are not yet showing the anticipated signs of sustained improvement. Structural recruitment market fundamentals including job vacancy levels, salary inflation and candidate shortages are still holding strong which continues to suggest that when market confidence recovers there will likely be an increase in demand and candidate movement across all areas of recruitment.

"The Group has a strong and experienced senior management team with a successful track record of navigating challenging macro-economic conditions and balancing short-term pressures with longer term growth. We have invested significantly in Group headcount and global infrastructure over the past two years and while we are taking a sensible approach to cost reduction, we intend to protect our strategic core to ensure we can move quickly to take advantage of opportunities when market confidence returns.” 

Financial and operational highlights

Gross profit (Net fee income) Q2 2023

Q2 2022

% change % change (constant currency*)
Group £99.9m £112.0m (11%) (10%)
Asia Pacific £43.8m £49.7m (12%) (8%)
Europe £32.3m £31.5m 3% 0%
UK £16.0m £20.4m (21%) (21%)
Other International £7.8m £10.4m (25%) (26%)
* Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period average exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.


Group highlights

  • Group net fee income for the quarter down 10%* (down 11% actual) year-on-year with global market uncertainty continuing to impact both candidate and client confidence.
  • Tough comparatives against a record second quarter in 2022. 
  • 84% (2022: 82%) of the Group’s net fee income is now generated by our international businesses.
  • Group net fee income for the half-year down 5%* (down 4% actual) year-on-year to £202.3m (2022: £210.5m).
  • Headcount down 3% quarter-on-quarter to 4,280 (31 March 2023: 4,403). 
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £69.9m as at 30 June 2023 (31 March 2023: £70.5m).
  • During the quarter, the Group purchased and cancelled 818,000 shares at an average price of £4.15 for £3.4m.

Regional highlights

  • Asia Pacific net fee income down 8%* (down 12% actual) to £43.8m (2022: £49.7m).
    • Net fee income in Mainland China down 37%* year-on-year. The anticipated economic bounceback from Covid-related disruption earlier this year is yet to materialise.
    • The strongest rates of net fee income growth were delivered by Indonesia (up 20%*), Malaysia (up 11%*) and New Zealand (up 8%*).
    • Net fee income in Japan and Australia, the region’s largest businesses declined by 1%* and 17%* respectively.
  • Europe net fee income was flat* (up 3% actual) at £32.3m (2022: £31.5m).
    • A more resilient performance across Europe with record net fee income in Belgium (up 18%*) and Switzerland (up 13%*). Our newest business in Italy is performing well.
    • Solid performance across the region’s three largest businesses in France (flat*), Netherlands (down 3%*) and Spain (down 4%*) against record prior year comparatives.
  • UK net fee income down 21% to £16.0m (2022: £20.4m).
    • Recruitment confidence levels in the UK continued to be impacted by the knock-on macro-economic effects of a high inflation and high interest rate environment.
    • Activity levels impacted by lay-offs across the technology sector and financial services volatility. Legal recruitment remained relatively robust.
  • Other International (the Americas, South Africa and the Middle East) net fee income down 26%* (down 25% actual) to £7.8m (2022: £10.4m).
    • Trading conditions in the US remained challenging with net fee income down 47%* year-on-year as a result of significant disruption to hiring across both technology and financial services.
    • South Africa and Mexico performed well, increasing net fee income by 23%* and 93%* respectively year-on-year.

The Group will publish its half-year financial results for the period ended 30 June 2023 on 1 August 2023. 


Further information

Robert Walters plc                            +44 20 7379 3333
Toby Fowlston, Chief Executive Officer
Alan Bannatyne, Chief Financial Officer

Williams Nicolson                             
Steffan Williams                               +44 7767 345 563               


About Robert Walters Group

The Robert Walters Group is a market-leading international specialist professional recruitment group. With over 4,200 staff spanning 31 countries, we deliver specialist recruitment consultancy, staffing, recruitment process outsourcing and managed services across the globe. We match highly skilled professionals to permanent, contract and interim roles across the disciplines of accountancy & finance, banking, engineering, HR, healthcare, technology, legal, sales, marketing, secretarial & support, and supply chain, logistics & procurement. Our client base ranges from the world’s leading blue-chip corporates and financial services organisations through to SMEs and start-ups.


Forward-looking statements

This announcement contains certain forward-looking statements. These statements are made by the directors in good faith based on the information available to them at the time of their approval of this announcement and such statements should be treated with caution due to the inherent uncertainties, including both economic and business risk factors, underlying any such forward-looking information.