Trading update for the full year ended 31 December 2016

Record performance 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.

  • Opened 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).
  • Group headcount of 3,229 (2015: 2,916).
  • Final dividend increased by 21% to 6.2p per share (2015: 5.13p).
  • 7.3m shares purchased in 2016 for £22.6m at an average price of £3.10. Since 31 December 2016, a further 2.1m shares have been purchased and cancelled at an average price of £3.79 for £8.0m.
  • Strong cash generation with net cash of £22.5m as at 31 December 2016 (31 December 2015: £17.8m).

Robert Walters, Chief Executive, said:

“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.”

The Company will publish an interim management statement for the first quarter ending 31 March 2017 on 11 April 2017.

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