Home Estate Planning Robert Walters: Recruiter slashed headcount as profit plummeted – with London hit hard

Robert Walters: Recruiter slashed headcount as profit plummeted – with London hit hard

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Recruiter Robert Walters has joined rival Pagegroup in slashing headcount over the past year, citing the difficult jobs market in the UK, and London in particular.

The London-listed company said its headcount had dropped by nine per cent in the last year, while reporting its results up until 31 December 2023 this morning.

It said headcount had dropped to 3,980 from 4,356 the previous year, which it said was “reflecting a balanced approach to maintain core consultant capacity in most resilient markets”.

The company’s operating profit was down 52 per cent on last year to £26.3m while its profit before tax was down by 60 per cent to £20.8m, and net profit dropped by eight per cent to £386.8m.

It said gross profit, or net fee income, was down compared to a record year previously, with 2022 being a pandemic bounce-back year.

Robert Walters told markets that in the UK overall, net fee income was down 18 per cent, with it making up 16 per cent of its overall global portfolio.

London recruitment was down 29 per cent, as the company warned it had been “impacted by financial services and technology retrenchment, whilst recruitment in the regions was more resilient”, down by seven per cent.

Its chief executive Toby Fowlston said: “In what was a challenging year right across our industry, I’m very proud of the contributions of our people over the last 12 months.

“The international diversification of our business underpinned our resilient performance in 2023, despite labour demand contracting sharply across our markets.

“Our collective experience trading through previous market cycles tells us that when conditions do improve, the inflection can be rapid, and we, therefore, have strong conviction in our decision to maintain our core consultant capacity, whilst sensibly managing our cost base.”

This comes after another recruitment specialist Pagegroup slashed more than a thousand staff in the last year, as its profit took a hit from the slowdown in the jobs market.

The UK economy entered a technical recession recently, as firms have been looking to cut costs, in part by slashing jobs and making ‘efficiency’ savings.

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