Strong 12% headline growth in operating profit despite an £8.3m foreign exchange headwind
Full year dividend increase of 5%
Strong, broad-based net fee growth in UK & Ireland
- Net fees up 11%, or £23.9m, generating £20.6m operating profit improvement; an 86% drop-through
- Excellent operating leverage as a result of improved consultant productivity and overhead cost reductions
Good 8% net fee growth in Continental Europe & Rest of World, driving operating profit growth of 20%
- Good growth in key businesses with Germany net fees up 8%, France up 5% and Canada up 5%
- 14 countries delivered net fee growth of over 10%, including Belgium, Poland and Switzerland
Asia Pacific net fees down 6%
- Australia net fees down 13%, but business sequentially stable through H2
- Excellent growth of 25% in Asia with four countries delivering record net fee performances
Consultant headcount up 6%, primarily in H2, as we selectively invested to capitalise on growth opportunities
Strong cash performance, with 125% conversion of operating profit into operating cash flow
Strong growth in Basic EPS of 19%, reflecting excellent growth in operating profit and lower effective tax rate
Commenting on the results Alistair Cox, Chief Executive, said:
"This is a strong financial performance, and we are ahead of schedule in terms of our aspirations to broadly double the Group's operating profits by 2018. I am also pleased that our excellent earnings and cash performance has enabled us to increase the dividend by 5%.
We saw improved conditions in several key markets, notably in the UK, Asia, North America and many European countries, and took advantage by investing to drive growth. In the UK & Ireland, strong net fee growth and our focus on driving productivity improvements, combined with the on-going benefit of 2012's overhead cost reductions, meant we converted 86% of incremental net fees into operating profit. Elsewhere, 19 countries delivered record net fee performances and we made significant progress against our operational and strategic objectives, for example further expanding our global Oil & Gas business and making further good progress in rolling out our IT Contracting business into new markets.
I am confident that we enter the new year in a position of strength, with unrivalled breadth, scale and balance around the world and the best people and technology tools in our industry. Having outperformed during the downturn, we now have the ideal platform to capitalise on the many growth opportunities we see around the world. Our focus is on continuing to grow the business by leveraging that platform, driving further profit growth and building an ever-stronger leadership position in our industry."