8 October 2020

Robert Walters Group releases Q3 2020 trading update

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The Robert Walters Group today released its Q3 2020 trading update, for the period ended 30 September 2020. 

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented: “First and foremost, I would like to once again acknowledge the tremendous resilience and positivity shown by all of our people across the globe in these uncertain and challenging times. It’s through their hard work and commitment that the Group has been able to deliver a quarter-on-quarter improvement in net fee income albeit still at levels 30%* below the prior year.

“Market conditions do remain challenging and the volatile nature of the pandemic does mean visibility is limited, however with some key forward-looking indicators either stabilising or showing signs of improvement we believe now is the right time to end the voluntary reduced working hours scheme for all employees globally and to reinstate the interim dividend.

“I remain confident that the Group will emerge from this Covid-impacted period stronger than ever with increased market share and a platform to deliver accelerated growth through operational gearing. Current trading is in line with market consensus for the full year.”

Financial and operational highlights

Gross profit (Net fee income) Q3 2020

Q3 2019

% change % change (constant currency*)
Group £72.8m £105.6m (31%) (30%)
Asia Pacific £30.5m £44.8m (32%) (30%)
Europe £19.6m £26.9m (27%) (27%)
UK £16.0m £24.8m (35%) (35%)
Other International £6.7m £9.2m (27%) (22%)
*Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period average exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
  • Resilient performance with Group net fee income levels improving quarter-on-quarter. Market conditions do however remain challenging.
  • 78% (2019: 77%) of the Group’s net fee income now derived from our international operations.
  • The Group reacted quickly at the onset of the pandemic with strong cost reduction and control measures which have continued through the third quarter.
    • 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.
  • Our pre-Covid investment in technology continues to provide a competitive advantage with all staff continuing to work seamlessly and productively whether in the office or remotely.
  • The large majority of the Group’s offices are open, albeit with reduced capacities in some locations to ensure adherence to local government Covid-related guidelines.
  • Voluntary reduced working hours scheme for all employees globally ended 30 September.
  • Key forward-looking recruitment indicators have stabilised or shown early signs of improvement particularly across our Asia Pacific business which was the first region to be impacted by the pandemic at the turn of the year.
  • Pockets of strong demand do exist across a number of specialist disciplines globally including technology, digital, e-commerce, fintech, cyber-security and healthcare.
  • The Group’s blend of permanent, contract, interim recruitment and recruitment process outsourcing has enabled us to respond to the varying nature of client requirements across the globe.
  • Group headcount now stands at 3,240 (30 September 2019: 4,258).
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £138.9m as at 30 September 2020 (30 September 2019: £81.6m). The Group also has a £60m committed loan facility due for renewal in 2023.
  • The Board has taken the decision to reinstate the interim dividend. An interim dividend of 4.5p per share (2019: 4.5p) will be paid on 6 November 2020 to those shareholders on the Company Register as at 16 October 2020.

The Group will publish a trading update for the fourth quarter ending 31 December 2020 on 12 January 2021.

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 3,200 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.