RECORD RESULTS; PROFIT AHEAD OF EXPECTATIONS
Financial and Operational Highlights
- Record results with operating profit up by 19% (21%*) to £49.7m (2017: £41.9m) and profit before taxation up by 21% (23%*) to £49.1m (2017: £40.6m).
- 73% (2017: 71%) of the Group’s net fee income derived from outside of the UK.
- Opened in two new countries, Chile and the Czech Republic and added four new offices in existing markets - Geneva, Hamburg, Leeds and Los Angeles. Group now has a footprint covering 30 countries.
- Asia Pacific net fee income up 13% (16%*) to £154.1m (£159.1m*) (2017: £136.6m) and operating profit up 20% (26%*) to £21.2m (£22.3m*) (2017: £17.7m).
- Demand for bilingual professionals continued to be strong across Asia.
- Another year of record performance in Japan. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China performed well and there was accelerated growth in our emerging South East Asia markets, with Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines all increasing operating profit in excess of 50%*.
- In Australia, growth was strongest across Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide and we continued to benefit from our increased focus on the SME market and higher growth disciplines such as fintech, technology and digital.
- UK net fee income up 7% to £107.5m (2017: £100.9m) delivering a 5% increase in operating profit to £12.4m (2017: £11.8m).
- Candidate and client confidence increasingly cautious due to Brexit uncertainty.
- Activity levels strongest outside of London with Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, in particular, well positioned as regional technology and commerce hubs.
- Resource Solutions increased net fee income and continued to expand client base.
- Europe net fee income up 25% (24%*) to £100.8m (£100.0m*) (2017: £80.6m) and operating profit increased 33% (32%*) to £15.0m (£14.9m*) (2017: £11.3m).
- Outstanding performance across the region as markets become increasingly candidate short. Growth was broad-based across permanent, contract and interim recruitment.
- Net fee income in Germany increased in excess of 70%*. Spain and the Netherlands grew by more than 25%*. France, our largest business in the region, grew net fee income by more than 15%*.
- Other International (the Americas, South Africa and the Middle East) net fee income was up 10% (14%*) to £29.7m (£30.9m*) (2017: £27.1m) and operating profit increased by 2% (decreased 3%*) to £1.1m (£1.1m*) (2017: £1.1m).
- Giles Daubeney will be stepping down from the Board and his role as Deputy CEO at the Group’s Annual General Meeting on 17 May 2019.
- Group headcount increased by 9% to 4,132 (2017: 3,793).
- Group purchased 791,336 shares at an average price of £6.42 for £5.1m through the Group’s Employee Benefit Trust.
- Strong balance sheet with net cash of £74.3m as at 31 December 2018 (31 December 2017: £31.1m).
Robert Walters, Chief Executive, said:
“The Group has delivered another strong set of results. Our ability to produce a significant increase in profitability whilst also continuing to invest for the future with new country and office openings is testament to the success of our long-term strategy of international expansion and recruitment discipline diversification.
“It’s inevitable that the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit will continue to affect client and candidate confidence in the UK. We are a truly global business with 73% of net fee income derived from outside of the UK, a global footprint covering 30 countries and well-established operations in all those locations that might benefit from any potential movement of business and staff from the UK. 2019 has started well, in line with the Board’s expectations, and the Group is well positioned to continue to take advantage of market opportunities as they arise.”
The Company will be holding a presentation for analysts at 10.30am today at the offices of Robert Walters plc, 11 Slingsby Place, St. Martin’s Courtyard, London WC2E 9AB.
The Company will publish a trading update for the first quarter ending 31 March 2019 on 15 April 2019.
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.
* Constant currency is calculated by applying prior period exchange rates to local currency results for the current and prior periods.
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