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Brunel reports strong Q1 profit increase

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Brunel International NV
·9-min read
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Amsterdam, 30 April 2021 – Brunel International N.V. (Brunel; BRNL), a global provider of flexible workforce solutions and expertise, today announced its first quarter (Q1) 2021 results.

Key points Q1 2021

  • EBIT up 34% at EUR 10.7 million versus Q1 2020;

  • Revenue of EUR 213 million, down 17% versus Q1 2020 due to COVID-19; and up 2% versus Q4 2020 despite seasonality;

  • Cost savings resulting in EUR 8 million lower operating cost versus Q1 2020;

  • Gross margin increased by 1.8 percentage points to 23.1%;

  • Financial position remains strong with net cash at EUR 150.6 million;

Jilko Andringa, CEO of Brunel International N.V.: ”Q1 demonstrated our enhanced group agility with profits up substantially, while revenues were as expected still depressed by COVID-19. Due to our operational discipline, investments in added value and focus on rates, we managed to improve our gross margin significantly. Combined with the impact of last year’s cost saving program, we achieved a 34% increase in EBIT, ahead of a post-pandemic revenue recovery anticipated to commence once the world opens up again. The recovery will allow cross-border mobility of specialists to increase and local need for specialists to spike. Brunel is ready for this next phase of profitable growth. We can capitalize on our capabilities and leverage our global footprint to further drive profitability through specialization, diversification, capabilities building and disciplined execution. We will continue to expand our pool of upskilled specialists through our talent communities enabling us to connect them to challenging projects. We will particularly focus on growth in the segments future mobility, renewables, life sciences, mining, infrastructure and oil & gas. Our global team of passionate Brunellers is eager to take advantage of the anticipated post-COVID-19 market momentum and put their vital specialist and engineering expertise to work for a more sustainable world. With confidence I am looking forward to the coming quarters.”

Brunel International (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

213.0

255.8

-17%

a

Gross Profit

49.3

54.4

-9%

Gross margin

23.1%

21.3%

Operating costs

38.6

46.4

-17%

b

EBIT

10.7

8.0

34%

EBIT %

5.0%

3.1%

Average directs

9,290

11,447

-19%

Average indirects

1,310

1,567

-16%

Ratio direct / Indirect

7.1

7.3

a -15 % like-for-like

b -16 % like-for-like

Like-for-like is measured excluding the impact of currencies

Q1 2021 results by division
P&L amounts in EUR million

Summary:

Revenue

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Δ%

DACH region

55.7

69.6

-20%

The Netherlands

47.2

50.8

-7%

Australasia

25.2

30.0

-16%

Middle East & India

25.2

33.8

-25%

Americas

20.3

28.5

-29%

Rest of world

39.4

42.3

-7%

Unallocated

0.0

0.8

-100%

Total

213.0

255.8

-17%


EBIT

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Δ%

DACH region

6.0

4.0

50%

The Netherlands

4.0

3.2

25%

Australasia

0.0

0.0

Middle East & India

2.4

3.2

-25%

Americas

-0.1

-0.8

88%

Rest of world

1.3

1.1

18%

Unallocated

-2.9

-2.7

-7%

Total

10.7

8.0

34%

The Group’s revenue decreased by 17% or EUR 42.8 million versus Q1 2020, a period in which the impact of COVID-19 was still limited. Revenue was up 2% versus Q4 2020, despite seasonality.

Gross margin came in at 23.1%, a 1.8 percentage point increase versus Q1 2020 with almost all regions contributing and a particular strong contribution from the DACH region. EBIT increased by 34% or EUR 2.7 million versus Q1 2020, despite one less working day in Germany and The Netherlands. Cost savings realised in 2020 and continued cost discipline helped our EBIT improve in almost all regions.

PERFORMANCE BY REGION

DACH region (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

55.7

69.6

-20%

Gross Profit

19.6

21.3

-8%

Gross margin

35.2%

30.6%

Operating costs

13.6

17.3

-21%

EBIT

6.0

4.0

50%

EBIT %

10.8%

5.7%

Average directs

1,901

2,548

-25%

Average indirects

377

511

-26%

Ratio direct / Indirect

5.0

5.0

Revenue per working day in the DACH region decreased by 19% with a 25% lower headcount. The decrease in revenue follows the headcount decline and is partly offset by higher rates and an increased productivity. The gross margin adjusted for working days is significantly up to 36.0% in Q1 2021 (2020: 30.6%). The gross margin improvement was driven by a higher productivity, compared to a low productivity in Q1 2020. Productivity in Q1 2020 was also impacted by the move of our automotive test center, that is now at a normal productivity. The number of specialists in short-time working reduced from 130 in Q4 2020 to 75 in Q1 2021.

Working days Germany:

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

FY

2021

63

60

66

65

254

2020

64

59

66

65

254

Headcount as of 31 March was 1,908 (2020: 2,545).

The Netherlands (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

47.2

50.8

-7%

Gross Profit

13.5

14.1

-4%

Gross margin

28.6%

27.8%

Operating costs

9.5

10.9

-13%

EBIT

4.0

3.2

25%

EBIT %

8.5%

6.3%

Average directs

1,733

2,016

-14%

Average indirects

301

367

-18%

Ratio direct / Indirect

5.8

5.5


Revenue per working day in The Netherlands decreased by 6%. The business line Legal continued to show strong growth, partly offsetting the decline in some other business lines. Gross margin adjusted for working days is 29.6% in Q1 2021 (Q1 2020: 27.8%). The gross margin increased due to higher rates and a higher productivity. EBIT improved by 25% as a result of the higher gross profit and the cost saving initiatives that were realized throughout 2020.

Working days The Netherlands:

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

FY

2021

63

61

66

66

256

2020

64

60

66

65

255

Headcount as of 31 March was 1,737 (2020: 2,000).

Australasia (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

25.2

30.0

-16%

a

Gross Profit

2.4

2.6

-8%

Gross margin

9.5%

8.7%

Operating costs

2.4

2.6

-8%

b

EBIT

0.0

0.0

EBIT %

0.0%

0.0%

Average directs

906

1,059

-14%

Average indirects

83

82

2%

Ratio direct / Indirect

10.9

13.0

a -21 % like-for-like

b -13 % like-for-like

Like-for-like is measured excluding the impact of currencies

Revenue is down both in Australia and PNG. Australia suffered from poor weather conditions, where PNG continued to be impacted by its dependency on expats travelling into the region, which was still restricted due to COVID-19.

Middle East & India (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

25.2

33.8

-25%

a

Gross Profit

4.1

5.9

-31%

Gross margin

16.3%

17.5%

Operating costs

1.7

2.7

-37%

b

EBIT

2.4

3.2

-25%

EBIT %

9.5%

9.5%

Average directs

2,078

2,711

-23%

Average indirects

125

146

-15%

Ratio direct / Indirect

16.7

18.5

a -19 % like-for-like

b -31 % like-for-like

Like-for-like is measured excluding the impact of currencies

In Middle East & India we saw a continued decrease in revenue, mainly due to completion of several projects and currency effects. Gross margin decreased due to margin pressure from existing clients and an unfavourable change in the client mix. Operating costs have decreased as a result of cost saving initiatives implemented in the second half year of 2020.

Americas (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

20.3

28.5

-29%

a

Gross Profit

2.6

3.2

-19%

Gross margin

12.8%

11.2%

Operating costs

2.7

4.0

-33%

b

EBIT

-0.1

-0.8

88%

EBIT %

-0.5%

-2.8%

Average directs

761

877

-13%

Average indirects

100

121

-18%

Ratio direct / Indirect

7.6

7.2

a -22 % like-for-like

b -24 % like-for-like

Like-for-like is measured excluding the impact of currencies

In the Americas revenues decreased by 29%, with strong growth in Brazil and growth in Canada. The activities in the USA did not yet show any recovery and were also hindered by the severe winter weather conditions in Texas. Gross margin has increased by 1.6 percentage points year-on-year boosted by higher recruitment revenue and project wins at a higher margin.

Rest of world (unaudited)

P&L amounts in EUR million

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change %

Revenue

39.4

42.3

-7%

a

Gross Profit

7.1

7.3

-3%

Gross margin

18.0%

17.3%

Operating costs

5.8

6.2

-6%

b

EBIT

1.3

1.1

18%

EBIT %

3.3%

2.6%

Average directs

1,911

2,195

-13%

Average indirects

264

275

-4%

Ratio direct / Indirect

7.2

8.0

a -1 % like-for-like

b -3 % like-for-like

Like-for-like is measured excluding the impact of currencies

The Rest of World includes Asia, Russia & Caspian area, Belgium and Europe & Africa. In Russia, activities have increased with some new projects being started. In Asia, work continued on construction projects that were started pre-COVID-19. The increased profitability is mainly driven by a strong performance in our growth markets in Asia.

Outlook
We expect the current trend to continue in Q2 2021: revenue will be similar to Q1 2021, meaning a much lower decline yoy, however, still impacted by COVID-19.

Over Q2, gross margins are expected to be lower compared to Q1 2021 due to the seasonality and the lower number of working days as is EBIT, due to seasonality. Last year’s cost savings program resulted in a significantly lower cost level, ensuring we will achieve a significantly higher EBIT compared to Q2 2020. Through a strong focus on growth in the segments future mobility, renewables, life sciences, mining, infrastructure and oil & gas we are ready to benefit when the world opens up again.

Attachment

Press Release Q1 202