Robert Walters reports a record performance for the year ended 31 December 2016, with profit before taxation increasing by 26% (16%*) year-on-year. Net fee income grew across all of the Group’s regions and 15 countries delivered record performances despite a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty across a number of markets.
The strength of the Group lies in the blend of both the breadth of solutions we provide to clients and in our geographic spread. Our blend of specialist professional recruitment and recruitment process outsourcing solutions is a key differentiator in an evolving recruitment industry, whilst our geographic footprint covering 28 countries including fast-growing emerging recruitment markets and mature well-established markets provides a well-balanced platform for growth.
Revenue was up 23% (15%*) to £998.5m (2015: £812.7m) and gross profit (net fee income) increased by 19% (8%*) to £278.3m (2015: £234.4m). Operating profit was up 14% (4%*) to £26.2m (2015: £23.1m) and earnings per share increased by 34% to 27.7p per share (2015: 20.6p per share). The Group has further strengthened its balance sheet with net cash of £22.5m as at 31 December 2016 (31 December 2015: £17.8m). Permanent recruitment represents 69% (2015: 69%) of recruitment net fee income.
During the year, headcount increased by 11% to 3,229 (2015: 2,916) with the majority of the uplift within Resource Solutions, our recruitment process outsourcing business.
- Office openings in four new countries – Canada, India, the Philippines and Portugal. Three new offices also opened in existing markets – Antwerp, Penang and Toulouse.
- 69% of Group net fee income generated outside of the UK.
- Asia Pacific net fee income up 22% (6%*) to £117.6m (£101.8m*) (2015: £96.3m) and operating profit up 13% (0%*) to £14.7m (£12.9m*) (2015: £12.9m).
- Japan, our largest business in the region, delivered a record performance with bilingual professionals in high demand and short supply.
- Australia delivered solid net fee income growth and New Zealand produced a record result.
- Market conditions in Greater China remained challenging.
- Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan delivered particularly strong performances.
- UK net fee income up 8% to £86.7m (2015: £80.4m) and operating profit up 4% to £6.4m (2015: £6.2m).
- Candidate and client confidence impacted by EU referendum however activity levels remained positive across commerce finance and the UK regions.
- Resource Solutions produced strong net fee income growth benefiting from the significant investment made during the first half of the year.
- Europe net fee income up 30% (15%*) to £60.1m (£53.2m*) (2015: £46.3m) and operating profit up 27% (19%*) to £4.2m (£3.9m*) (2015: £3.3m).
- France, the region’s largest business, the Netherlands and Belgium all had record years with contract and interim recruitment delivering particularly strong results.
- Spain, Switzerland and Germany produced the strongest growth rates, all increasing net fee income in excess of 40%.
- Other International (North America, Brazil, the Middle East and South Africa) net fee income up 22% (3%*) to £14.0m (£11.8m*) (2015: £11.5m) and operating profit up 36% (16%*) to £1.0m (£0.8m*) (2015: £0.7m).
* Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior periods.
Robert Walters, Chief Executive, comments:
“I am very pleased to report a record set of results for the Group with profit before tax increasing by 26% to £28.1m. We grew net fee income across all of the Group’s regions and opened offices in four new countries; Canada, India, the Philippines and Portugal.
“Looking ahead, we remain mindful of the unpredictable geopolitical environment, however, the Group’s global footprint coupled with the range of recruitment services we provide positions us well to maximise opportunities for growth as they arise.”