30 July 2020

Half-yearly financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2020

Round window with sky

Robert Walters plc, the leading international recruitment group, today announces its half-yearly financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2020.

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, said: “The Covid-19 global pandemic presented the Group with an unprecedented set of challenges to navigate during the first six months of the year. The way our people across the globe have responded to these challenges with a unity of purpose and steadfastness has been truly inspiring and is testament to the strength of the Group’s culture.

“Our pre-Covid investment in technology and innovation coupled with prudent cost management has enabled the business to remain profitable and gain market share through this extraordinary period.

“Current trading is in line with market expectations for the full year, albeit visibility remains limited. There is a clear correlation between the easing of lockdown restrictions and positive movement in recruitment activity indicators, however, the fluid and volatile nature of the pandemic does mean that the risk of infection spikes and a return to lockdown remains a reality.

“The Group has a strong brand, balance sheet and cash position and is led by an experienced management team that has steered the business successfully through a number of previous international crises. We remain confident that we will emerge from this unprecedented period with increased market share and well placed to benefit from operational gearing as markets normalise and recover.”

Financial and operational highlights

  H1 2020

H1 2019

% change % change (constant currency*)
Revenue £496.4m £634.5m (22%) (21%)
Gross profit (net fee income) £158.5m £204.9m (23%) (23%)
Operating profit £4.2m £22.5m (81%) (83%)
Profit before taxation £4.3m £20.9m (79%) (81%)
Basic earnings per share 3.9p 21.7p (82%) n/a
*Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior periods.
  • All of the Group’s regions significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic during the first half of the year. The outbreak was largely confined to Asia Pacific for the first two months of the year but quickly spread across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.
  • Pre-Covid investment in technology ensured the Group was able to seamlessly transition to home-working as lockdowns were instigated across the globe.
  • Strong but prudent cost control measures implemented including voluntary Executive Director salary reductions of 20%, voluntary reduced working hours schemes for employees globally and reductions in all discretionary spending.
  • Large majority of the Group’s offices are now open, albeit with reduced capacities to adhere to local government guidelines.
  • Employees are now back to full working hours in a number of the Group’s markets as local recruitment activity levels either stabilised or showed signs of improvement.
  • Asia Pacific net fee income down 21% (21%*) to £63.9m (£63.4m*) (2019: £80.5m) and operating profit down 71% (73%*) to £2.9m (£2.7m*) (2019: £10.0m).
    • In Asia, our market-leading business in Japan performed relatively well with net fee income declining by 13%* year-on-year. Hong Kong was significantly impacted by both Covid-19 and on-going political and social unrest resulting in a 47%* decline in net fee income. In South East Asia, Malaysia and Thailand produced robust performances whilst activity levels in Singapore and Indonesia were more significantly impacted.
    • Solid performance across Australia and New Zealand with net fee income declining by 19%* and 16%* respectively. Performance underpinned by temporary recruitment and activity across the technology, digital and specialist financial services sectors.
  • Europe net fee income down 18% (18%*) to £44.5m (£44.5m*) (2019: £54.0m) and operating profit down 81% (81%*) to £1.5m (£1.5m*) (2019: £7.7m).
    • The breadth of our permanent, temporary and interim recruitment offerings enabled us to respond to varying client needs across the region.
    • Our Netherlands and Belgium businesses held up well with net fee income declining by just 3%* and 8%* respectively. The region’s largest business, France, was more significantly affected with net fee income declining by 26%* year-on-year.
    • Our smaller businesses in Switzerland and Portugal delivered increases in net fee income albeit from a lower base.
  • UK net fee income down 31% to £36.3m (2019: £52.9m) producing an operating profit of £0.0m (2019: £4.2m).
    • Positive signs of both client and candidate confidence in the first two months of the year were erased with the onset of Covid-19 and lockdown in mid-March.
    • Significant fall in recruitment activity across both London and the UK regions during the second quarter. Pockets of activity did exist but limited to disciplines of technology, digital transformation, fintech, logistics and healthcare.
  • Other International (the Americas, Middle East and South Africa) net fee income down 21% (22%*) to £13.8m (£13.7m*) (2019: £17.5m) producing an operating loss of £0.2m (operating loss of £0.3m*) (2019: operating profit of £0.6m).
  • The Board believes that given the current level of market uncertainty and volatility it is not prudent to propose an interim dividend. The Board will continue to review and assess its dividend policy as the long-term economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic becomes clearer.
  • Group headcount decreased by 14% to 3,734 (30 June 2019: 4,323).
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £119.0m as at 30 June 2020 (30 June 2019: £54.4m). The Group also has a £60m committed loan facility due for renewal in 2023.

The Group will publish a trading update for the third quarter ending 30 September 2020 on 8 October 2020.

Further information

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

Portland Communications              +44 7767 345 563
Steffan Williams
Simon Hamer

About Robert Walters Group
The Robert Walters Group is a market-leading international specialist professional recruitment group with over 3,700 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.