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Robert Walters sees annual profit above expectations on hiring pickup

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(Reuters) -British recruiting firm Robert Walters Plc said on Wednesday it expected annual profit to beat market expectations as its key markets saw signs of a pickup in hiring.

The recruiter, however, cautioned that it was difficult to be certain of any further global disruptive events ahead, with many nations introducing fresh restrictions to curb the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past few days, its peers PageGroup and Hays have also showed confidence in their annual profit outlook after demand for new recruits surged last month.

Recruiters around the globe were badly hit last year as the pandemic-induced financial crisis forced most firms to halt new hiring. However, a ramp-up in vaccinations and re-opening of some economies have encouraged many companies to resume recruiting.

Robert Walters, which books majority of its fees outside the UK, posted a 12% fall in net fee income to 77.3 million pounds ($106.51 million) for its first quarter ended March 31. It had reported a drop in fees of 24%, 31% and 33% in the preceding three quarters, respectively.

The company, which has over 3,000 employees across more than 30 countries, said its headcount increased by 74 during the quarter.

($1 = 0.7257 pounds)

(Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)