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Robert Walters warns over profits as global jobs market slows

Recruiter Robert Walters has warned that profits will just miss expectations amid a “difficult” global jobs market due to mounting economic gloom.

The group said that while group net fee income continued to rise – up 8% to £105.3 million in the final three months of 2022 on a constant currency basis – growth slowed sharply compared with previous quarters.

Group gross profit had surged by 18% in the third quarter.

Robert Walters said group net fee income still lifted 20% over the full year, putting profits on track to hit a record, but that the result would be slightly below market expectations as a result of “difficult market conditions”.

Robert Walters, chief executive and founder of the eponymous firm, said: “The global macroeconomic backdrop became increasingly uncertain as the quarter progressed, resulting in a softening of recruitment activity levels across many of the group’s markets.

“Nevertheless, the group continued to see growth, albeit more muted, across all regions and all forms of recruitment – permanent, temporary, interim and recruitment process outsourcing – with net fee income for the fourth quarter up 8% year-on-year.

“Group net fee income for the full year was up 20%, with full-year profit expected to be a record, albeit slightly below current market expectations.”

The group’s trading update showed that despite the gathering economic uncertainty, UK net fee income lifted by 8% to £17.2 million, with recruitment across financial services, commerce finance and technology holding up well through the quarter.

It added that there was a notable uptick in contract recruitment in the UK.

The firm’s own workforce rose 2% quarter-on-quarter to 4,356 over the three months, but after peaking in November, the headcount declined in December “reflecting the more challenging market conditions”.