7 October 2021

Robert Walters Group releases Q3 2021 trading update

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The Robert Walters Group today announced its Q3 2021 trading update for the period ended 30 September 2021.

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented: “The third quarter was yet another period of strong growth for the Group with net fee income increasing by 32%* year-on-year despite the majority of markets in our largest and most profitable region, Asia Pacific, experiencing full or significant lockdowns for much of the period. Consultant productivity across the Group was up 16%* and we continue to invest in headcount to ensure we capitalise on long-term market opportunities.

“With candidate and client confidence accelerating across all recruitment disciplines and candidate shortages becoming ever more acute, the competition for talent is fierce. Significant wage inflation has emerged particularly for the most sought after skill-sets. In short, the jobs market is hot.

“I am pleased to report that the Group has once again benefited from operational gearing and that profit for the full year is expected to be comfortably ahead of current market expectations.”

Financial and operational highlights

Gross profit (Net fee income) Q3 2021

Q3 2020

% change % change (constant currency*)
Group £91.8m £72.8m 26% 32%
Asia Pacific £44.4m £30.5m 46% 54%
Europe £22.7m £19.6m 15% 22%
UK £18.7m £16.0m 17% 17%
Other International £6.0m £6.7m (10%) (6%)
* Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period average exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
  • Trading continued to be strong across all of the Group’s major regions during the third quarter. Profit for the full year is now expected to be comfortably ahead of the guidance signalled in the Group’s half-year results statement. 
  • Group net fee income for the third quarter was up 32%* (26% actual) with growth strongest across the Asia Pacific region which now accounts for 48% (2020: 42%) of Group net fee income. 
  • Asia Pacific net fee income up 54%* (46% actual) to £44.4m (2020: £30.5m) despite the majority of our markets in the region being under full or significant lockdowns.
    • Japan and Australia, the two largest and most profitable businesses in the region, both delivered excellent performances growing net fee income in excess of 40%* year-on-year. 
    • Mainland China continued to go from strength-to-strength with net fee income doubling year-on-year for the second consecutive quarter. Encouragingly, Hong Kong bounced back well with net fee income up 110% year-on-year despite the challenging political backdrop. 
  • Europe net fee income up 22%* (15% actual) to £22.7m (2020: £19.6m). 
    • Broad based growth with all eight of the Group’s markets in the region delivering double-digit increases in net fee income. 
    • Permanent and interim recruitment delivered the strongest rates of growth as increased market confidence encouraged more long-term hiring decisions. 
  • UK net fee income up 17% to £18.7m (2020: £16.0m). 
    • Candidate and client confidence accelerated across both London and the UK regions during the quarter with recruitment activity levels highest across the legal, technology and commerce finance disciplines. 
    • Activity levels in Resource Solutions, our recruitment process outsouring business, remained strong, in line with increasing client demand. 
  • Other International (the Americas, South Africa and the Middle East) net fee income down 6%* (down 10% actual) to £6.0m (2020: £6.7m). 
    • Double-digit growth in our recruitment business across the region. Resource Solutions continues to rebuild client-centric teams, following pandemic-driven cutbacks, with a strong performance expected in quarter four. 
  • Continued investment in headcount across all markets and disciplines. Headcount up by 5% to 3,376 (30 June 2021: 3,230). 
  • The Group purchased 46,308 shares at an average price of £7.27 for £0.3m through the Group’s Employee Benefit Trust. 
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £126.0m as at 30 September 2021 (30 September 2020: £138.9m). The Group also has a £60.0m committed loan facility until 2024.

The Group will publish a trading update for the fourth quarter ending 31 December 2021 on 11 January 2022. 


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 3,300 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.