3 March 2020

Results for the year ended 31 December 2019

Cubed structure

The Robert Walters Group today released its full-year results for the year ended 31 December 2019. The Group delivered a 3% increase in net fee income, along with a record level of profit.

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented:

“2019 was a year of unprecedented political and economic turbulence fuelled by the US-China trade war, Brexit, protests in Hong Kong and Gilets-Jaunes disruption in France. It’s a testament to the strength of the Group’s brand, geographic diversity and long-term growth strategy that we have been able to deliver a 3% (2%*) increase in net fee income and a record level of Group profit.

“The global recruitment market remains unpredictable at present with the Coronavirus outbreak, which is likely to negatively impact full-year profit expectations, adding a further layer of uncertainty. We will continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation and update the market as appropriate.”

Financial and operational highlights



% change % change (constant currency*)
Revenue £1.22bn £1.23bn (1%) (2%)
Gross profit (net fee income) £405.5m £392.0m 3% 2%
Operating profit £51.2m £49.7m 3% 1%
Profit before taxation £47.4m £49.1m (3%) (6%)
Basic earnings per share 48.4p 50.4p (4%) n/a
Adjusted operating profit £50.5m** £49.7m 2% 0%
Adjusted profit before taxation £49.5m** £49.1m 1% (2%)
Adjusted basic earnings per share 50.6p** 50.4p 0% n/a
Final dividend per share 11.0p 10.7p 3% n/a
*Constant currency is calculated by applying prior year exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
** Adjusted figures exclude the impact of IFRS 16 Lease adjustments which only impact 2019, with the specific adjustments disclosed in note 13 of the full-year statement.
  • Resilient performance with Group net fee income up 3% (2%*) to a record £405.5m (£401.5m*) (2018: £392.0m) and profit before taxation up 1%** (down 2%*) to £49.5m** (2018: £49.1m).
  • Continued investment in the Group’s international footprint with the opening of one new country, Mexico and four new offices (Cologne, Nantes, Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard and Utrecht) in existing markets.
  • All regions outside of the UK produced increases in both net fee income and operating profit, with 76% (2018: 73%) of the Group’s net fee income derived from our international businesses.
  • Asia Pacific net fee income up 7% (4%*) to £164.6m (£160.7m*) (2018: £154.1m) and operating profit up 7%** (2%*) to £22.6m** (£21.5m*) (2018: £21.2m).
    • In Asia, standout performances were delivered by Japan, the Group’s most profitable business, Malaysia and Vietnam, with all producing significant increases in both net fee income and operating profit.
    • Market conditions remained extremely challenging in Hong Kong which was significantly impacted by the political protests in the second half of the year.
    • Solid performance in Australia with single-digit growth in both net fee income and operating profit.
  • Europe net fee income up 8% (9%*) to £108.7m (£109.6m*) (2018: £100.8m) and operating profit increased 1%** (1%*) to £15.2m** (£15.2m*) (2018: £15.0m).
    • Strong blend of permanent, contract and interim recruitment offerings underpinned a solid performance across the region.
    • France, the largest business in the region, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain all delivered record levels of net fee income. Performance in France particularly pleasing given the backdrop of Gilets-Jaunes protests and general strikes.
  • UK net fee income down 9% to £98.4m (2018: £107.4m) and operating profit down 7%** to £11.5m** (2018: £12.4m).
    • Candidate and client confidence hit hard, particularly in the second half of the year, by Brexit-related uncertainty and the General Election. Both specialist recruitment and recruitment process outsourcing businesses were negatively affected.
    • Technology-related recruitment held up well throughout the year in both London and the UK regions.
  • Other International (the Americas, South Africa and the Middle East) net fee income was up 14% (11%*) to £33.8m (£32.9m*) (2018: £29.7m) and operating profit increased by 7%** (1%*) to £1.2m** (£1.1m*) (2018: £1.1m).
    • Outstanding performances in San Francisco and the Middle East. Chile already profitable and Mexico has started well. Brazil and South Africa were more challenging.
  • Group headcount decreased by 3% to 4,027 (2018: 4,132) with reductions focused in Resource Solutions, the Group’s recruitment process outsourcing business, in line with clients’ reduced hiring requirements.
  • The Group purchased 2,486,300 shares at an average price of £6.03 for £15.0m through the Group’s Employee Benefit Trust.
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £85.8m as at 31 December 2019 (31 December 2018: £74.3m).

The Group will publish a trading update for the first quarter ending 31 March 2020 on 8 April 2020.

Further information

Robert Walters plc                            +44 (0) 20 7379 3333
Robert Walters, Chief Executive
Alan Bannatyne, Chief Financial Officer

Portland Communications              +44 (0) 20 7554 1853
Steffan Williams
Simon Hamer

About Robert Walters Group

The Robert Walters Group is a market-leading international specialist professional recruitment group with over 4,000 staff spanning 31 countries. We specialise in the placement of the highest calibre professionals across the disciplines of accountancy and finance, banking, engineering, HR, IT, legal, sales, marketing, secretarial and support and supply chain and procurement. Our client base ranges from the world’s leading blue-chip corporates and financial services organisations through to SMEs and start-ups. The Group’s outsourcing division, Resource Solutions, is a market leader in recruitment process outsourcing and managed services.


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.