Belfast Telegraph

Recruiter 'confident' annual profits will beat expectations despite Brexit fears

Recruiter Robert Walters said it expected annual profits to beat expectations after a record second quarter, boosted by an uptick in UK hiring despite Brexit fears.

The staffing group said that second quarter net fee income from the UK rose 13% to £24.3 million in the three months to June 30, with activity "strongest" across financial services, commerce and IT recruitment in the capital.

Like most of its peers, Robert Walters saw hiring in Britain's powerhouse financial services sector collapse following last year's EU referendum.

Larger rival Page Group said on Tuesday it was continuing to take a hit from Brexit uncertainty, with gross profits at its UK arm falling in the second quarter.

But Robert Walters reversed the trend much earlier, reporting an increase in UK recruitment activity since the end of last year, which continued into the second quarter of 2017.

Overall gross profit rose £86.3 million in the second quarter, from £69.3 million over the same period last year. At constant exchange rates, the rise was 16% year-on-year.

The UK comprises almost a third of Robert Walters's total income.

The group's overseas operations were also performing strongly, with gross profit in Europe jumping 19% to £20 million over the period. Other regions including North America and Brazil also delivered strong growth, the company said.

Chief executive Robert Walters said: "The Group has delivered another record performance in the second quarter again benefiting from our international footprint and the breadth of recruitment solutions we provide.

"Net fee income for the first six months of the year is up 18% and the board is confident that profit before tax for the full year will be ahead of current market expectations."

Shares rose over 5.5% to 449.2p in mid-morning trading.