11 January 2022

Robert Walters Group releases Q4 2021 trading update

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The Robert Walters Group today announced its Q4 2021 trading update for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2021.

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented: “The fourth quarter was another very strong period for the Group with net fee income increasing by 39%* year-on-year. We are seeing candidate shortages across all locations and disciplines, a fierce competition for talent and wage inflation kicking in which together create huge opportunities across the recruitment market.

“Group net fee income for the full year was up 21%*. Following a strong quarter including a record December, trading is now comfortably ahead of current profit expectations.”

Financial and operational highlights

Gross profit (Net fee income) Q4 2021

Q4 2020

% change % change (constant currency*)
Group £95.1m £71.4m 33% 39%
Asia Pacific £44.8m £30.2m 48% 56%
Europe £27.0m £21.2m 28% 36%
UK £16.0m £14.9m 7% 7%
Other International £7.3m £5.1m 44% 48%
* Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period average exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
  • Strong trading momentum was maintained through the fourth quarter across all of the Group’s regions with Group net fee income up 39%* (33% actual) year-on-year.
    • Quarter ended very strongly with a record December performance.
  • 83% (2020: 79%) of the Group’s net fee income is now generated by our international businesses.
  • Permanent and interim recruitment activity were the strongest drivers of growth as organisations continued to confidently hire for the longer-term.
  • Contract and recruitment process outsourcing also grew very well reflecting the strength of the end- to-end recruitment market.
  • Asia Pacific net fee income up 56%* (48% actual) to £44.8m (2020: £30.2m) despite a number of markets, particularly in Asia, still under full or signifcant lockdowns.
    • Japan and Australia, the two largest and most profitable businesses in the region, continued to deliver excellent performances with net fee income increasing by 63%* and 40%* respectively year-on-year.
    • Across Asia, performance was also strong with Indonesia (up 136%*), Hong Kong (up 100%*), Singapore (up 55%*) and Mainland China (up 49%*) producing particularly strong net fee income growth.
  • Europe net fee income up 36%* (28% actual) to £27.0m (2020: £21.2m).
    • Strong growth across the region with our two largest markets, France and the Netherlands, delivering 23%* and 44%* growth in net fee income respectively.
    • Excellent performance in Belgium, with net fee income up 42%* year-on-year underpinned by a surge in permanent hiring. Spain also continued to produce a strong performance, increasing net fee income by 40%*. Germany also delivered a great result with net fee income up 44%* year-on-year.
  • UK net fee income up 7% to £16.0m (2020: £14.9m). 
    • Candidate shortages continued to drive heightenend competition for talent across both London and the regions with the legal, commerce finance and technology disciplines particularly active. 
  • Other International (the Americas, South Africa and the Middle East) net fee income up 48%* (44% actual) to £7.3m (2020: £5.1m).
    • Our business in Latin America, spanning Brazil, Chile and Mexico, collectively grew net fee income by 115%* year-on-year. Our business in the Middle East continues to go from strength to strength.
  • Continued investment in headcount across all markets and disciplines. Headcount up by a further 3% to 3,484 (30 September 2021: 3,376).
  • The Group purchased 1,580,067 shares at an average price of £7.48 for £11.9m through the Group’s Employee Benefit Trust.
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of £126.0m as at 31 December 2021 (31 December 2020: £154.8m). The Group also has a £60.0m committed loan facility until 2024.

The Group will publish full year results for the year ended 31 December 2021 on 8 March 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 3,400 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.