Robert Walters set for 10% headcount increase in 2015

Robert Walters is eyeing a 10% increase in headcount over the next year, according to the global professional services recruiter’s chief financial officer Alan Bannatyne.

Wed, 7 Jan 2015 | By Graham Simons

Robert Walters is eyeing a 10% increase in headcount over the next year, according to the global professional services recruiter’s chief financial officer Alan Bannatyne.

The group’s Q4 trading update, released this morning [7 January], reveals a 13% increase in net fee income (NFI) from £49.7m to £56.2m on the same quarter last year, led by 27% growth in the UK from £15.1m to £19.1m.

Europe saw NFI grow 6% from £10.8m to £11.5m, while Asia Pacific witnessed NFI increase from £21.8m to £23.0m.

The group’s headcount rose to 2,629 from 2,307 at the end of the last year – a trend Bannatyne sees continuing in 2015.

He told Recruiter: “In terms of next year I would be surprised if we don’t grow the core recruitment business by at least 10% in terms of heads, possibly faster if the markets allow us.

“There is a chance we will return to an office opening mentality in the next three to 12 months,” he added.

“I don’t think we will open a whole host of offices but I think there will be a few to come. The offices could be [both] in the UK and international.”

But according to chief executive Robert Walters (above), the business case for new offices will need to be made by the firm’s recruiters on the ground.

“The point about new offices is when we open new ones, we don’t decide in our little glamorous central London location with a map of the world and flags being stuck in. It’s down to the local regions as to where they see opportunities.”

For example, he says, one of the most successful start-ups over the past five years has been in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, “where we now have getting on for 100 people”. The recruiter is now seeing opportunities in the state of Penang, to the North of the capital.

“It is not for us to decide if we go to Penang or not,” Walters adds. “It’s more of a case of can they make a business case justification plan that makes sense? And they put it to us and we say yes or no.”

The group’s full final results for the year ended 31 December 2014 will be published on 26 February.

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