The Robert Walters Board has announce an interim dividend will be increased by 20% to 5.4p per share (2020: 4.5p) and will be paid on 1 October 2021 to those shareholders on the Company's register as at 3 September 2021.
Other financial highlights include:
Record performance with operating profit increasing by 478% (507%) year-on-year to £24.1m (£25.4m) (2020: £4.2m).
Wage inflation returning as demand for talent outstrips supply.
Recruitment activity levels across all professional disciplines accelerated through the first half of the year. Growth strongest across permanent and interim recruitment as candidate and client confidence levels improved. Permanent recruitment now represents 67% (2020: 62%) of the Group's net fee income.
79% (2020: 77%) of the Group's net fee income now derived from international businesses with the Group's largest region, Asia Pacific, now accounting for 45% (2020: 40%) of the Group's net fee income.
Asia Pacific net fee income up 15% (20%) to £73.7m (£76.8m) (2020: £63.9m) and operating profit up 379% (415%) to £14.0m (£15.1m) (2020: £2.9m).
Acute shortage of professionals right across the region exacerbated by Covid impact on immigration and the mobility of talent.
Japan, the Group's most profitable business, increased net fee income by 18% year-on-year despite a backdrop of multiple states of emergency during the period.
Strong bounce-back in Mainland China with net fee income increasing 90% year-on-year.
Significant upturn in recruitment activity in Australia and New Zealand with net fee income increasing by 11% and 42% year-on-year respectively.
Europe net fee income up 2% (3%) to £45.2m (£45.8m) (2020: £44.5m) and operating profit up 326% (334%) to £6.2m (£6.3m) (2020: £1.5m).
Good performance across the region underpinned by growth in permanent and interim recruitment.
Recruitment activity rebounded well in France and Spain, two of the Group's largest businesses in the region, with both increasing operating profit significantly year-on-year.
UK net fee income down 3% to £35.2m (2020: £36.3m) with operating profit increasing significantly to £3.3m (2020: £0.0m).
Candidate and client confidence increased progressively through the first half with a noticeable acceleration in quarter two. Activity levels highest in London and across commerce finance, legal and technology. Wage inflation emerging for high demand roles across all professional disciplines.
Activity levels in Resource Solutions, their recruitment process outsourcing business, were negatively impacted as a result of the lag effect of organisations rebuilding recruitment teams at the beginning of recovery cycles.
Other International (the Americas, Middle East and South Africa) net fee income down 12% (5%) to £12.1m (£13.1m) (2020: £13.8m) producing a 389% (391%) increase in operating profit to £0.6m (operating profit of £0.6m) (2020: operating loss of £0.2m).
Group headcount down by 13% year-on-year to 3,230 (30 June 2020: 3,734).
To capitalise on market momentum they are already investing in additional headcount in those geographies and disciplines showing the strongest rates of growth. They expect to add circa 200 heads during the second half of the year.
The Group is a finalist in the ESG Reporting Awards 2021, an international awards programme that recognises the best in sustainability and climate-related reporting by listed companies.
Strong balance sheet with net cash of £122.8m as at 30 June 2021 (30 June 2020: £119.0m). The Group also has a £60.0m committed loan facility due for renewal in 2024. At 30 June 2021, £9.4m (2020: £13.2m) was drawn down under this facility.