Level 2

Robert Walters sees tough outlook as fees drop

By Sean Farrell

Date: Wednesday 08 Apr 2020

Robert Walters sees tough outlook as fees drop

(Sharecast News) - Robert Walters said it expected difficult trading after fees fell in the first quarter as the Covid-19 crisis hit recruitment in the UK and other markets.
The recruitment company's fee income fell 11% to £87.4m in the three months to the end of March. The biggest drop was in the UK where fees declined 29% to £19.7m.

Fees fell in Asia Pacific fell 5% to £34.5m and in Europe they were down 3% at £25.4m including currency swings. In other markets fees fell 6%.

Robert Walters said candidate and client confidence fell across the UK in March as the government tightened restrictions on business and individuals to combat Covid-19. Technology, supply chain and logistics were more resilient as companies hired more people to keep products moving.

In Asia Pacific, Japan and South Korea were "extremely resilient" but China felt a significant impact from the outbreak and activity slowed greatly in Australia and New Zealand in the last two weeks of March. France and Spain were the countries worst affected in Europe.

Robert Walters said it had cut costs by 15% including reducing all discretionary spending, cutting executive directors' pay by 20% and asking employees to reduce their hours. Group headcount fell 2% to 4,027 during the quarter. The company scrapped its final dividend on 2 April.

Robert Walters, the company's chief executive, said: "Trading for the first quarter was negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. With Europe and the Americas recently following much of the Asia Pacific region into varying stages of lockdown, we are expecting the second quarter to be more challenging."

The company said it had net cash of £109.8m at the end of March and a £60m loan facility until 2023.

"I am confident that we will emerge from this period of uncertainty very well placed to benefit from operational gearing to quickly take advantage of the inevitable market opportunities," Walters said.


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