FINANCIAL: UK NFI down 31% as Robert Walters sees 21% revenue decline

International professional recruiter Robert Walters became the latest staffing company to reveal the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its finances, as UK net fee income fell by 31%.

In its half-yearly results published this morning, the company reported a 23% fall in NFI overall to £158.5m, compared to £204.9m in the first six months of 2019. Revenue overall fell 21% to £496.4m compared to £634.5m in the same period in 2019. Profit before taxation declined by 79% from £20.9m to £4.3m. Group headcount decreased by 14% to 3,734.

Alongside the UK, which saw a 31% drop in NFI (from £52.9m to £36.6m), Hong Kong, where NFI fell 47%, was another region to be more significantly affected by the virus than average across the group, although social unrest was also a factor. Overall Asia Pacific performed slightly better than average, with NFI down 21% (£63.9m from £80.5m), with Japan doing relatively well (-13%). 

The company reported a “solid performance” across Australia and New Zealand, with NFI declining by 19% and 16% respectively.

Europe as whole saw NFI down by -18%, with standout markets being the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal. France was more significantly affected with NFI declining 26% year-on-year.

Commenting on the results, CEO Robert Walters said: “The Covid-19 global pandemic presented the group with an unprecedented set of challenges to navigate during the first six months of the year.

“Our pre-Covid investment in technology and innovation coupled with prudent cost management has enabled the business to remain profitable and gain marketshare through this extraordinary period.

“Current trading is in line with market expectations for the full year, albeit visibility remains limited. There is a clear correlation between the easing of lockdown restrictions and positive movement in recruitment activity indicators, however, the fluid and volatile nature of the pandemic does mean that the risk of infection spikes and a return to lockdown remains a reality.

“The group has a strong brand, balance sheet and cash position, and is led by an experienced management team that has steered the business successfully through a number of previous international crises. We remain confident that we will emerge from this unprecedented period with increased marketshare and well placed to benefit from operational gearing as markets normalise and recover.”

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