27 July 2021

Half-yearly financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2021

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The Robert Walters Group, the leading international recruitment group, today announces its half-yearly financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2021.

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented: “It’s been a record first half performance with the Group delivering a four-fold increase in pre-tax profits year-on-year. Recruitment activity levels accelerated markedly as the first half of the year progressed, with the demand for talent outstripping supply across many markets and disciplines. A war for talent and significant wage inflation is beginning to emerge.

“To produce such a strong performance during a period when many of the Group’s markets were still in either full or partial lockdown is a credit to the hard work, dedication and resilience of our people across the globe and their commitment to providing our clients and candidates with the highest quality of service. I am also delighted that we continue to be recognised as a leader in the ESG space; achieving carbon negative status and being shortlisted as a finalist in the ESG Reporting Awards.

“Trading is comfortably ahead of current market expectations for the full year, and we enter the second half of the year with cautious optimism and confidence that we will continue to take advantage of market opportunities as they arise.”

Financial and operational highlights*

  H1 2021

H1 2020

% change % change (constant currency†)
Revenue £468.2m £496.4m (6%) (5%)
Gross profit (net fee income) £166.2m £158.5m 5% 8%
Operating profit £24.1m £4.2m 478% 507%
Profit before taxation £22.1m £4.3m 414% 443%
Basic earnings per share 20.9p 3.9p 428% n/a
*For the most appropriate representation of current trading, view financial comparisons against our 2019 half-yearly results in our full statement
†Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period average exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years. View comparisons against 2019 here.
  • Record performance with operating profit increasing by 478% (507%*) year-on-year to £24.1m (£25.4m*) (2020: £4.2m).
  • Wage inflation returning as demand for talent outstrips supply.
  • Recruitment activity levels across all professional disciplines accelerated through the first half of the year. Growth strongest across permanent and interim recruitment as candidate and client confidence levels improved. Permanent recruitment now represents 67% (2020: 62%) of the Group’s net fee income.
  • 79% (2020: 77%) of the Group’s net fee income now derived from our international businesses with the Group’s largest region, Asia Pacific, now accounting for 45% (2020: 40%) of the Group’s net fee income.
  • Asia Pacific net fee income up 15% (20%*) to £73.7m (£76.8m*) (2020: £63.9m) and operating profit up 379% (415%*) to £14.0m (£15.1m*) (2020: £2.9m).
    • Acute shortage of professionals right across the region exacerbated by Covid impact on immigration and the mobility of talent.
    • Japan, the Group’s most profitable business, increased net fee income by 18%* year-on-year despite a backdrop of multiple states of emergency during the period.
    • Strong bounce-back in Mainland China with net fee income increasing 90%* year-on-year.
    • Significant upturn in recruitment activity in Australia and New Zealand with net fee income increasing by 11%* and 42%* year-on-year respectively.
  • Europe net fee income up 2% (3%*) to £45.2m (£45.8m*) (2020: £44.5m) and operating profit up 326% (334%*) to £6.2m (£6.3m*) (2020: £1.5m).
    • Good performance across the region underpinned by growth in permanent and interim recruitment.
    • Recruitment activity rebounded well in France and Spain, two of the Group’s largest businesses in the region, with both increasing operating profit significantly year-on-year.
  • UK net fee income down 3% to £35.2m (2020: £36.3m) with operating profit increasing significantly to £3.3m (2020: £0.0m).
    • Candidate and client confidence increased progressively through the first half with a noticeable acceleration in quarter two. Activity levels highest in London and across commerce finance, legal and technology. Wage inflation emerging for high demand roles across all professional disciplines.
    • Activity levels in Resource Solutions, our recruitment process outsourcing business, were negatively impacted as a result of the lag effect of organisations rebuilding recruitment teams at the beginning of recovery cycles.
  • Other International (the Americas, Middle East and South Africa) net fee income down 12% (5%*) to £12.1m (£13.1m*) (2020: £13.8m) producing a 389% (391%*) increase in operating profit to £0.6m (operating profit of £0.6m*) (2020: operating loss of £0.2m).
  • Group headcount down by 13% year-on-year to 3,230 (30 June 2020: 3,734).
    • To capitalise on market momentum we are already investing in additional headcount in those geographies and disciplines showing the strongest rates of growth. We expect to add circa 200 heads during the second half of the year.
  • The Group is a finalist in the ESG Reporting Awards 2021, an international awards programme that recognises the best in sustainability and climate-related reporting by listed companies. 
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £122.8m as at 30 June 2021 (30 June 2020: £119.0m). The Group also has a £60.0m committed loan facility due for renewal in 2024. At 30 June 2021, £9.4m (2020: £13.2m) was drawn down under this facility.

The Company will publish a trading update for the third quarter ending 30 September 2021 on 7 October 2021.


Further information

Robert Walters plc                           +44 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 3,200 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.