(Adds CEO, CFO comments)
By Esha Vaish
March 15 Recruiter Robert Walters sees a
more challenging jobs market in Britain after Brexit and expects
its U.K. operations to become a smaller part of its business
over the next few years as it seeks international expansion.
The firm, which places people in finance, engineering, legal
and marketing jobs, sees about 20 percent of net fee income
coming from the U.K. in 5-10 years' time, down from about 31
percent now, Chief Financial Officer Alan Bannatyne told
The firm posted on Wednesday a record 2016 pretax profit of
28.1 million pounds ($34 million), up 26 percent year on year.
It operates in 15 countries including Japan.
However, in line with statements from British rivals
PageGroup, Hays and SThree, Robert
Walters said the Brexit vote had hit confidence and activity
among individuals and firms in the U.K.
People tend to switch jobs more frequently when confidence
PageGroup has said the uncertainties stemming from Brexit
could linger, while Hays has noted only gradual improvement in
the U.K. market since the vote.
CEO Robert Walters said he expects the London banking market
to remain weak as firms worry about how to keep serving their
European Union clients from U.K. bases once Britain leaves the
Importers were struggling too due to the pound's slide
, he added.
However, "outsourcing is a big part of (Robert Walters')
U.K. business, while recruitment is largely an international
business so we're not as affected as we would have been without
that footprint overseas," Walters said.
The outsourcing unit and resilient post-Brexit trading in
the U.K. commerce finance market and U.K. regions, where Robert
Walters focuses on hiring for small- and medium-sized
businesses, helped it report higher 2016 U.K. profit.
It expanded into Canada, India, the Philippines and Portugal
in 2016 and opened new offices in Antwerp, Penang and Toulouse
where it had existing operations.
Bannatyne said the company could look at opening a third
U.S. office as well as expanding in Latin America, where it has
operations in Brazil, in 18 months or so.
($1 = 0.8187 pounds)
(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu