2 March 2021

Results for the year ended 31 December 2020

Cubed structure

The Robert Walters Group today released its full-year results for the year ended 31 December 2020. Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented:

“Throughout this incredibly challenging period the wellbeing of our people has been our number one priority. The Group would not have been able to deliver such a robust performance without the unity of purpose and steadfastness displayed by our people across the globe. The global pandemic has stress-tested the culture and resilience of our business like never before and I have been both humbled and inspired by how our people have risen to the challenge with a singular focus on helping our clients and candidates.

“Group net fee income was down 26%* for the full year but the sequential quarter-on-quarter improvement in net fee income from quarter two onwards, combined with the short-term and targeted cost control measures put in place at the onset of the pandemic, has enabled the Group to deliver full-year profits ahead of market expectations.

“With new or extended lockdowns still occurring across much of the world, market conditions remain challenging and visibility is limited. That said, the speed at which vaccination programmes are progressing across many of the Group’s markets coupled with signs of improvement in forward-looking indicators in Asia Pacific, the Group’s largest region, provides a degree of cautious optimism for a longer-term economic recovery. Early 2021 trading is in line with current market expectations for the full year.”

Financial and operational highlights



% change % change (constant currency*)
Revenue £938.4m £1.22bn (23%) (23%)
Gross profit (net fee income) £302.4m £405.5m (25%) (26%)
Operating profit £14.8m £51.2m (71%) (71%)
Profit before taxation £12.1m £47.4m (75%) (75%)
Basic earnings per share 8.0p 48.4p (83%) N/A
Final dividend per share 11.0p 0.0p N/A N/A
*Constant currency is calculated by applying prior year exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
  • The Group’s primary focus for the year has been ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and our clients and candidates.
  • Profit for the full year ahead of current market expectations.
    • Proven track record of delivering sensible and targeted short-term cost reduction and control measures in difficult times whilst maintaining the Group’s ability to benefit from operational gearing when market conditions improve.
    • Pre-Covid investment in technology enabled all staff to seamlessly and productively transition to remote working without impacting our ability to service our client and candidate requirements.
  • Robust performance against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, with Group net fee income down 25% (26%*) year-on-year to £302.4m (2019: £405.5m).
  • 78% (2019: 76%) of Group net fee income now derived from our international businesses.
  •  Blend of revenue streams across permanent, contract and interim recruitment and recruitment process outsourcing enabled the Group to meet the varying needs of clients and candidates across the globe.
  • Asia Pacific net fee income down 25% (25%*) to £124.1m (£124.3m*) (2019: £164.6m) and operating profit decreased by 63% (64%*) to £8.4m (£8.3m*) (2019: £22.8m).
  • Europe net fee income down 21% (22%*) to £85.7m (£84.6m*) (2019: £108.7m) and operating profit decreased by 69% (70%*) to £4.7m (£4.7m*) (2019: £15.4m).
  • UK net fee income down 32% to £66.9m (2019: £98.4m) and operating profit down to £1.3m (2019: £11.7m).
  • Other International (the Americas, South Africa and the Middle East) net fee income was down 24% (23%*) to £25.7m (£26.3m*) (2019: £33.8m) and operating profit decreased by 71% (72%*) to £0.4m (£0.4m*) (2019: £1.3m).
  • Group headcount decreased by 22% to 3,147 (2019: 4,027). Reductions were a blend of natural attrition, performance management and right-sizing and focused in those geographies and disciplines hardest hit by the pandemic.
  • Reinstatement of dividend payments in November 2020 with interim dividend of 4.5p per share. Proposed final dividend of 11.0p per share (2019: 11.0p per share declared, subsequently cancelled).
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £155.5m as at 31 December 2020 (31 December 2019: £85.8m). The Group also has a £60m committed loan facility which expires in March 2024.
    • Strength of the Group’s balance sheet meant no external fund-raising was required during the year.

The Group will publish a trading update for the first quarter ending 31 March 2021 on 14 April 2021.

Further information

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

Williams Nicolson                              +44 7767 345 563
Steffan Williams

About Robert Walters Group

The Robert Walters Group is a market-leading international specialist professional recruitment group with over 3,100 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, logistics 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.