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Recruiter Robert Walters bucks the trend with growth in UK gross profit

Chief executive Robert Walters said current trading is in line with market expectations
Robert Walters specialises in recruitment for financial services, IT, legal and engineering

Recruitment firm Robert Walters PLC continued to buck the trend as it delivered an increase in UK gross profit in the first quarter despite a slowdown in the jobs market.

Total net fee income, a measure of gross profit used by recruiters, rose 13% to £88.5mln with growth across all its markets.

In the UK, where business confidence has weakened since the Brexit vote, net fee income climbed 6% to £25.2mln.

Robert Walters specialises in recruitment for financial services, IT, legal and engineering sectors, which continued to experience demand for jobs.

READ: Robert Walters upgrades forecasts once again after record third quarter performance

The company said Manchester, Milton Keynes and St Albans were the standout performers while London saw strong demand for legal and commerce finance recruitment.

Shares drop as UK misses forecasts

However, the growth in the UK missed analysts' expectations, sending its shares down 2.5% to 682p in afternoon trading. 

"Due to challenges condition in Financial Services, the UK result was marginally weaker than our forecasts, and is the main reason we have chosen to leave our estimates unchanged at this stage – although acknowledge the balance of risks lie to the upside," said analysts at Liberum.

The broker maintained its 'buy' rating and target price of 775p, adding that it continues to see the shares as "well positioned to benefit from a number of structural opportunities across a number of its key regions as well as its attractive outsourcing exposure".

International markets drive growth

Net fee income in Europe increased 35% to £24.2mln, driven by Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

The Asia Pacific region posted a 3% rise in net fee income to £32.6mln with growth in Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand offsetting challenging market conditions in Singapore. Australia performed well and New Zealand had “continued strong double-digit growth”, the group said.

Other international markets, including Brazil, Canada, South Africa, the Middle East and the US, achieved net fee income growth of 37% to £6.5mln.

Chief executive Robert Walters said current trading is in line with market expectations.


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