7 March 2024

Results for the year ended 31 December 2023

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Resilient performance underpinned by international diversification. 

Robert Walters plc (LSE: RWA), the international specialist professional recruitment group, today announces its results for the year ended 31 December 2023. 

Toby Fowlston, Chief Executive, said: “In what was a challenging year right across our industry, I’m very proud of the contributions of our people over the last 12 months. The international diversification of our business underpinned our resilient performance in 2023, despite labour demand contracting sharply across our markets. We have begun to undertake initiatives to significantly strengthen our business, which we expect to gain further traction over the medium-term. Our collective experience trading through previous market cycles tells us that when conditions do improve, the inflection can be rapid, and we therefore have strong conviction in our decision to maintain our core consultant capacity, whilst sensibly managing our cost base.”

Financial summary

Gross profit (net fee income) 2023


Change Constant currency change*
Gross profit (net fee income) £386.8m  £428.2m (10%)  (8%)
Operating profit £26.3m £58.2m  (55%)  (52%)
Conversion rate %**  6.8%  13.6%  (680) bps  n/a
Profit before taxation £20.8m  £55.6m  (63%)  (60%)
Basic earnings per share  20.1p 56.2p (64%)  n/a 
Ordinary dividend per share  23.5p  23.5p   -  n/a 
Net cash  £79.9m  £97.1m  (18%)  n/a
* Constant currency is calculated by applying prior year exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior years.
**Conversion rate is calculated by expressing operating profit as a proportion of net fee income. 

Group highlights

  • Group net fee income down 8%* to £386.8m against a record prior year comparative, driven by softening macro-economic conditions in many of the Group’s markets as the year progressed. 
    • In recruitment, contract and interim (together “Temporary”) demonstrated good resilience (up 2%*) and accounted for 27% of net fee income (2022: 24%). Permanent performance (down 10%*) was more impacted as organisations sought out greater flexibility in their talent needs. 
    • In outsourcing (delivered through Resource Solutions), net fee income was down 15%*, reflecting account losses as greater focus applied to driving required financial returns.
    • Highly internationally diversified fee income, with no single country accounting for more than a sixth of Group net fee income and 84% of Group net fee income derived outside of the UK (2022: 83%). 
  • Operating profit down to £26.3m (2022: £58.2m), reflecting the operating leverage impact of lower net fee income. 
  • Conversion rate improved to 8.2% during the second half (H1: 5.5%), reflecting management actions taken to manage the Group’s cost base. 
  • Headcount down 9% year-on-year to 3,980 at period end (31 December 2022: 4,356), reflecting balanced approach to maintain core consultant capacity in most resilient markets.
  • Continued progress in the rollout of the Group’s customer relationship management (“CRM”) solution, which was live across 50% of the Group’s markets (by number of countries) as at the year end. 
  • Year-end net cash of £79.9m (31 December 2022: £97.1m), driven by cash conversion¹ of 207% (2022: 102%) and after returning c.£26m to shareholders during the year in ordinary dividends and share buybacks. 
  • Proposed final dividend of 17.0p per share, taking the total dividend for the year to 23.5p per share (2022: 23.5p), underpinned by internationally diversified business model, good cash generation and balance sheet strength.

Regional highlights

  • Asia-Pacific (43% of Group net fee income): net fee income down 9%*. Resilient performance in Japan (down 1%*), while conditions remained challenging in Australia (down 19%*). Performance in Mainland China stabilised in the second half of the year. 
  • Europe (33% of Group net fee income): net fee income flat*. Belgium performed extremely well with a second consecutive record net fee income performance (up 21%*), and good growth also delivered in Germany (up 8%*). Meanwhile, hiring markets were weaker in France (down 3%*) and the Netherlands (down 5%*), albeit against a record comparative in both countries. 
  • UK (16% of Group net fee income): net fee income down 18%. London recruitment (down 29%) impacted by financial services and technology retrenchment, whilst recruitment in the regions (down 7%) was more resilient. 
  • Rest of World (8% of Group net fee income): net fee income down 12%*. Weakness in North America (down 40%*) driven by technology sector, partially offset by growth in Mexico (up 68%*) and South Africa (up 38%*). 

Results presentation

The Company will host a results presentation webcast at 10:30am today. The live webcast of the presentation will be available at the following link: https://brrmedia.news/RWA_FY23

A recording of the presentation and accompanying conference call will be available on the Company’s website within 24 hours of the event.

Next news flow

The Company will publish a trading update for the first quarter ending 31 March 2024 on Tuesday 16 April 2024.


¹Cash conversion expressed as cash generated from operating activities divided by operating profit



Robert Walters plc                            

Toby Fowlston – Chief Executive Officer
David Bower – Chief Financial Officer
Dami Tanimowo - Head of Investor Relations        +44 7340 660 425                                                                            dami.tanimowo@robertwalters.com                                                                   

Williams Nicolson (Media enquiries)                            
Steffan Williams        +44 (0) 7767 345 563                                                                                                                                                        Ashia  Razzaq           +44 (0) 7979 324 998                                                                                                                              rw@williamsnicolson.com     


About Robert Walters Group

The Robert Walters Group is a market-leading international specialist professional recruitment group with over 3,900 staff spanning 31 countries. We specialise in the placement of the highest calibre professionals across the disciplines of accountancy and finance, banking, engineering, HR, healthcare, IT, legal, sales, marketing, secretarial and support and supply chain, logistics 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.                                                        www.robertwaltersgroup.com


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.