9 July 2020

Robert Walters Group releases Q2 2020 trading update

Red curved wall

The Robert Walters Group today released its Q2 2020 trading update, for the period ended 30 June 2020. 

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented: “I must begin by thanking all of the Group’s employees across the globe for their continued steadfastness and unity in these unprecedented times. The strength of the Group’s culture has shone through during this period and I am very proud of everyone’s collective efforts and commitment.

“As I indicated in our first quarter update, we expected the second quarter to be more challenging as periods of prolonged lockdown were instigated across the globe. Group net fee income declined by 34%* with the level of decline fairly uniform across all of our regions. Net fee income for the first half was down 23%*.

“Given the fluid and volatile nature of the global pandemic including the inherent risk of infection spikes and localised lockdowns, our forward visibility remains limited. That said, current trading is in line with market consensus for the full year.

“The Group has a strong 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. I remain confident that we will emerge from this period of uncertainty with increased market share and very well placed to benefit from operational gearing to quickly take advantage of the inevitable market opportunities.”

Financial and operational highlights

Gross profit (Net fee income) Q2 2020

Q2 2019

% change % change (constant currency*)
Group £71.1m £106.4m (33%) (34%)
Asia Pacific £29.4m £44.2m (34%) (35%)
Europe £19.2m £27.7m (31%) (32%)
UK £16.5m £25.2m (34%) (34%)
Other International £6.0m £9.3m (35%) (36%)
*Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period average exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
  • Our pre-Covid investment in technology ensured our teams remained productive throughout this challenging period.
    • All consultants were already equipped with tablets which enabled a seamless transition to remote working. Video CV, interviewing and communications platforms were also already in place.
  • Strong cost reduction and control measures have continued throughout the quarter (Group’s cost base reduced by 19% as of 1 July), including (as previously reported), Executive Director salary reductions of 20%, voluntary reduced working hour schemes for employees globally and reductions in all discretionary spending.
  • The Group has a proven track record of sensible and targeted short-term cost management without damaging our long-term ability to quickly benefit from operational gearing when market conditions become more favourable.
  • The majority of the Group’s offices are now open, albeit with reduced capacities in a number of locations to ensure adherence to local government guidelines and social distancing principles.
    • Exceptions are the Americas and Melbourne in response to spikes in local infection rates.
  • Asia Pacific net fee income down 35%* (down 34% actual).
    • Our businesses in Japan, South Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand proved to be most resilient whilst activity levels across South East Asia were more significantly impacted.
  • Europe net fee income down 32%* (down 31% actual).
    • Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands produced robust performances, with recruitment activity levels holding up relatively well. Activity levels across France, Germany and Spain were more muted.
  • UK net fee income down 34%.
    • Market conditions were challenging across the UK. Activity levels in the UK regions, whilst significantly down year-on-year, held up better than in London.
  • Other International (the Americas, Middle East and South Africa) net fee income down 36%* (down 35% actual) with the Middle East proving most resilient whilst in the Americas, and particularly Latin America, market conditions remain challenging as infection rates rise.
  • Group headcount decreased by 5% to 3,734 (31 March 2020: 3,935).
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £119.3m 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 its half-yearly results for the six months ended 30 June 2020 on 30 July 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.