Long-term hiring drives recruiter Robert Walters’ upbeat forecast

  • Pick up in permanent and interim hiring
  • Businesses resilient to Omicron so far, CFO says
  • Shares rise as much as 4%

Jan 11 (Reuters) – British recruitment group Robert Walters (RWA.L) on Tuesday forecast annual profit would exceed current expectations after posting higher quarterly net fees, driven by organisations hiring for the longer term and with vacancies to fill.

“We are seeing candidate shortages across all locations and disciplines, a fierce competition for talent, and wage inflation kicking in which together create huge opportunities across the recruitment market,” Robert Walters, chief executive officer of the eponymous company, said in a statement.

Shares of the FTSE Small Cap (.FTSC) rose as much as 4% in morning trade. The stock, which rose nearly 63% in 2021, was trading 2.2% higher at 828 pence by 1100 GMT.

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Recruiters were severely hit at the start of the pandemic as companies froze new hiring. This demand returned due to higher vacancies amid hybrid working and seasonal hires ahead of the holiday season.

However, the Omicron variant has raised fresh concerns globally and high inflation rates which have pushed up the cost of living, along with labour shortages, are putting pressure on employers to increase wages to attract and retain workers.

The first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic was the deciding stress-test, with businesses now having adapted to the uncertainties, Robert Walters’ finance chief, Alan Bannatyne, told Reuters.

“Many things were stress-tested by the original outbreak of COVID. Everything we are seeing so far (with Omicron) is less dramatic and businesses have proven to be resilient as well,” Bannatyne said.

Gross profit at the recruitment group, which specialises in the likes of accounting, legal and tech staff, rose 33% to 95.1 million pounds ($129.2 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, helped by a 48% growth in its biggest market, Asia Pacific.

Robert Walters also pointed to a strong performance in December, with a bounce-back in European hiring just as the Omicron coronavirus variant began spreading.

($1 = 0.7359 pounds)

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Reporting by Amna Karimi and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.