Loosening pandemic restrictions and the shift to hybrid working helped recruiter Robert Walters and office rental group IWG end 201 with exceptional trading performances.
Robert Walters’ operating profits jumped by 265 per cent to a record £54.1million last year, while IWG revenues surged ahead of pre-pandemic levels as it recorded its best-ever sales month in the final quarter.
Both companies said the increasing demand for more flexibility among employees and the adoption of hybrid working practices have provided a boon for them, and expect this trend to continue this year.
Adaptability: IWG and Robert Walters said the increasing demand for more flexibility among employees and the adoption of hybrid working practices have provided a boon for them
IWG noted that sales outside major business districts like the City of London tended to have higher volumes of occupancy and activity, and have consequently focused more on broadening its portfolio in commuter towns.
Meanwhile, Robert Walters noticed its clients were becoming more ‘location-agnostic’ when taking on new people and relying on video CVs and interviewing platforms more often to hire potential candidates.
But, in a sign that the office will remain important for the future, Robert Walters also observed face-to-face meetings are starting to happen more regularly, particularly in the latter parts of a recruitment process.
Both companies have reported impressive recoveries in trade from 2020 when they were affected by rules forcing tens of millions of people to work from home, and many firms were reluctant to enlarge their workforce.
At the start of last year, newly-imposed lockdowns in response to rising Covid-19 infection rates and uncertainty about the progress of vaccination programmes caused further damage.
But as restrictions started to loosen and the global economy rebounded from its dramatic slumber, the two firms reported a roaring trade.
Market strength: Robert Walters achieved significant gross profit gains in almost all regions of the world, with the Asia-Pacific territory seeing the largest rise of nearly one-third
IWG said: In a matter of a few months, we moved from one of the most challenging moments in our company’s history at the beginning of 2021 when we experienced the highest concentration of lockdowns…to a point where sales growth is now ahead of pre-pandemic levels.’
Robert Walters achieved significant gross profit gains in almost all regions of the world, with the Asia-Pacific territory seeing the largest rise of nearly one-third, despite many countries being impacted by stricter lockdown rules.
Expansion was far less pronounced in the UK, but this market was aided by intense competition to hire professional workers, who were in short supply, in industries such as law and technology at much higher wages.
Still, a jump in consultant productivity helped grow its overall net fee income by 17 per cent to £352.6million and pre-tax profits more than quadruple to £50.2million
Buoyant industry: ‘The jobs market is strong, wage inflation is increasing everywhere, and candidate and client confidence is high,’ said CEO Robert Walters (pictured)
Senior figures at the London-listed company, named after its founder and current chief executive, said trading so far this year has been in line with forecasts and have recommended a 36 per cent hike in final dividend to 36p.
‘The jobs market is strong, wage inflation is increasing everywhere, and candidate and client confidence is high,’ said CEO Robert Walters.
‘Together with the group’s strong brand, global international footprint covering both well-established and emerging recruitment markets and blend of permanent, interim, contract and recruitment process outsourcing revenue streams it serves to create clear opportunities across the recruitment market.’
Robert Walters shares had climbed by 8.9 per cent to £5.90 on Tuesday afternoon, though their value has fallen by almost 39 per cent since the start of the year.
IWG shares shot up 9.9 per cent to 255.5p, though they have declined by a fifth this year and by 39 per cent over the last 12 months.
The office rental firm, formerly known as Regus, additionally revealed it would merge its digital assets with workspace firm The Instant Group and attempt to list the new company on either the UK or US markets in the coming two years.
IWG’s digital assets offer services including platforms to book office spaces, while London-headquartered The Instant Group caters to the flexible workspace market, with presence in 18 countries globally.
The Switzerland-headquartered firm, which operates in more than 3,300 locations across 120 countries, posted a loss before tax from continuing operations of £259.4million for 2021, compared with a loss of £613.3million a year earlier.
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