Trading update for the full year ended 31 December 2015

Operating Profit up 27%:

  • Strong net fee income and profit growth across all of the Group’s regions producing a 23% (28%*) increase in profit before taxation to £22.4m (2014: £18.2m).
  • Asia Pacific net fee income up 6% (10%*) to £96.3m (£99.8m*) (2014: £90.5m) and operating profit increased 23% (21%*) to £12.9m (£12.7m*) (2014: £10.5m).  
    • Excellent growth in Japan. Clear market leader in the specialist professional recruitment space.
    • Emerging market growth strategy in South East Asia continues to deliver strong returns with all offices now profitable.
    • Solid year in Australia with four consecutive quarters of single digit net fee income growth despite a difficult economic backdrop.
  • UK net fee income increased by 13% to £80.4m (2014: £71.1m) and operating profit increased by 17% to £6.2m (2014: £5.2m).
    • Good overall net fee income and operating profit growth despite a slowdown in activity in financial services during the fourth quarter.
    • Resource Solutions delivered a strong increase in net fee income.
  • Europe net fee income increased 6% (16%*) to £46.3m (£51.0m*) (2014: £43.8m) producing a 53% (97%*) increase in operating profit to £3.3m (£4.3m*) (2014: £2.2m).
    • The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Ireland all delivered strong performances.
    • France performed well and encouragingly we began to see early signs of an upturn in permanent recruitment activity in the fourth quarter.
  • Other International (US, Middle East, South Africa and Brazil) net fee income increased by 16% (11%*) to £11.5m (£11.0m*) (2014: £9.9m) and operating profit doubled to £0.7m (£0.3m*) (2014: £0.3m).
  • Group headcount increased by 11% to 2,916 (2014: 2,631).
  • Final dividend increased by 18% to 5.13p per share (2014: 4.35p).
  • Strong cash generation with net cash of £17.8m as at 31 December 2015 (31 December 2014: £14.3m).

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, commented:

“The Group has delivered another year of strong profit growth. This performance has been underpinned by growth across both emerging and established recruitment markets, across permanent, interim and contract recruitment as well as in our recruitment process outsourcing business. This reflects the Group’s strategic objective of building a truly global and diversified specialist professional recruitment business.

“Looking ahead, whilst mindful of ongoing global market uncertainty we believe that the strength, depth and diversity that the Group now has in terms of geography, discipline and revenue streams ensures that we are well positioned for the future. Our expectations for the full year remain unchanged.”

The Group will publish an Interim Management Statement for the first quarter ended 31 March 2016 on 13 April 2016.

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