‘Slower start’ for Robert Walters as economic uncertainty affects recruitment

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Recruitment firm Robert Walters cautioned that it has seen a “slower start” to the current year as global economic uncertainty impacted company hiring.

The firm said total net fee income increased by 4% to £102.4 million over the first three months of 2023, compared with the same period last year.

It highlighted that this included a benefit from currency exchange rates.

Robert Walters, which employs more than 4,400 staff across 31 countries, said its performance included a 9% decline in income in the UK to £16.3 million.

The firm also said that UK technology recruitment was knocked by a continued “drip-feed of lay-offs across the industry”, which have included thousands of jobs being axed by Amazon, Meta and Google’s parent firm Alphabet.

However, it noted that recruitment in financial services has held up relatively well despite troubles in the banking sector.

The company’s operation across the rest of Europe fared better, reporting 16% growth to £34.3 million for the quarter.

Robert Walters, chief executive of his eponymously named firm, said: “As reported with our recent year-end results, the market uncertainty we experienced in the latter stages of last year has tipped over into the first quarter of 2023.

“Our businesses in Europe, the Middle East and South America held up relatively well whilst Asia Pacific and the UK experienced single digit dips in net fee income albeit against tough and record prior year comparatives.”

Mr Walters, who last month announced plans to retire, said that shortages in professional roles have given the firm reason for optimism despite the slowdown.

He said: “It is worth noting that recruitment market fundamentals such as vacancy levels and salary inflation remain relatively robust, which, coupled with a systemic global shortage of qualified professionals, gives cause for optimism that activity levels will bounce back when global market conditions become more benign.

“A return of confidence to the Chinese economy, a stabilisation of the technology sector and a continued decline in inflation should have a positive effect on the global outlook.”

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