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APAC NFI up 25% in H1 2017 for Robert Walters

Robert Walters plc has released its half-yearly financial results for the six months ended 30th June 2017.

The company reported a record first half performance with operating profit increasing by 62% (44% in constant currency) to £16.2m (2016: £10.1m) and profit before tax increasing by 39% (46% in constant currency) to £15.6m (2016: £11.2m).

71% of the Group’s net fee income derived from its international businesses.

All regions delivered increases in both net fee income and operating profit. Asia Pacific net fee income up 25% (10% in constant currency) to £67.4m (£59.3m in constant currency) (2016: £54.0m) and operating profit up 22% (3% in constant currency) to £7.7m (£6.5m in constant currency) (2016: £6.4m). There was a strong performance in Asia across both established and emerging markets with Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam all delivering record performances.

There was a good first half in Australia with growth strongest in Queensland and South Australia. Recent sponsorship of the British & Irish Lions further cemented its position in New Zealand. Resource Solutions won a number of new client deals across the region; requiring significant investment in upfront implementation costs.

UK net fee income was up 20% to £48.3m (2016: £40.2m) producing a substantial uplift in operating profit to £4.0m (2016: £1.8m). Activity levels strongest in London in financial services, commerce finance and technology. There was broad-based growth across the UK regions with Manchester, Milton Keynes and St. Albans the standout performers. Resource Solutions performed strongly winning several new client deals and continued to benefit from the investment made in 2016.

Europe net fee income up was 34% (22% in constant currency) to £38.0m (£34.4m in constant currency) (2016: £28.2m) and operating profit more than doubled to £4.4m (£3.7m in constant currency) (2016: £2.1m). There was strong growth across permanent, contract and interim recruitment. France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain all delivered record performances with the latter increasing net fee income in excess of 70%.

Other International (North America, Brazil, the Middle East and South Africa) net fee income was up 93% (67% in constant currency) to £10.9m (£9.4m in constant currency) (2016: £5.6m) producing an operating profit of £0.1m (£0.3m in constant currency) (2016: operating loss of £0.2m).

Group headcount increased by 20% to 3,495 (30 June 2016: 2,902). Interim dividend increased by 20% to 2.75p per share (30 June 2016: 2.30p). 2.1m shares have been purchased and cancelled at an average price of £3.79 for £8.0m. A further 0.4m shares were purchased at an average price of £4.03 for £1.7m through the Group’s Employee Benefit Trust. The company had a strong balance sheet with net cash of £18.4m as at 30th June 2017 (30 June 2016: £10.2m).

Robert Walters, chief executive, said, “The Group delivered a record performance in the first half increasing profit before tax by 39% (46%*) year-on-year. We continue to benefit from both our international footprint which now spans 28 countries, including many of the world’s fastest growing and emerging recruitment markets, and the breadth of recruitment solutions we provide to our clients.

“We enter the second half of the year with confidence that the Group’s platform for growth is strong and that we are well positioned to further capitalise on market opportunities as they arise.”

The Company will publish an interim management statement for the third quarter ending 30th September 2017 on 10th October 2017.

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