Robert Walters namesake founder reveals retirement plans as recruitment giant posts record profits
- Walters founded the company in 1985 after an eight-year stint with Michael Page
- His departure comes as the scout revealed sales topped £1billion last year
- Based in London, Robert Walters employs over 4,300 people in 31 countries
Robert Walters will retire next month after nearly four decades at the helm of the recruitment giant he founded, the group announced on Friday.
The seasoned entrepreneur founded the company in 1985 after an eight-year stint at another recruiting firm, Michael Page, with an initial focus on middle management.
Since surviving the recession of the early 1990s, the group has become one of Britain’s biggest headhunters, employing over 4,300 people in 31 countries.
Leaving: Veteran entrepreneur Robert Walters has announced he will retire as chief executive of the eponymous recruiter next month after nearly four decades at the helm
He intends to leave on April 27, when he will be replaced by Toby Fowlston, who currently leads global recruitment brands Robert Walters and Walters People and was previously managing director of the company’s Asia-Pacific region.
Confirmation of the CEO’s departure came as his company reported its best annual results following persistent pandemic-induced labor shortages and fierce competition for talent, prompting employers to impose d major salary increases.
For more specialized and high-demand positions, some companies were offering 20% pay raises for transferred staff, the company said.
Its revenue topped £1 billion last year, while net commission income jumped by more than a fifth to £428.2 million, Europe and the Asia- Pacific, where it collectively makes three-quarters of gross profits, is the backbone of growth.
Trade in China remained hard hit by lockdown restrictions, but commission income hit record highs in Japan, New Zealand and seven European countries, including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Profits in the UK have also risen on strong demand for legal and fintech workers, although many top tech giants have started to impose major job cuts amid a broader economic slowdown. .
Boom Times: Labor shortages and fierce competition for talent are driving employers to impose big wage hikes, providing a financial boon to the recruiting industry
Market confidence and hiring patterns have been particularly impacted in the second half of 2022 by the growing uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine and rising interest rates.
CEO Robert Walters noted that this unpredictability persisted into 2023 and that it was “too early to tell whether this is a short-lived correction or a more protracted economic downturn. “.
But he said the London-based firm was “well placed to react quickly to any further deterioration in market confidence or also to capitalize quickly on market opportunities as they arise”.
Of his successor, Toby Fowlston, who has been with the company since 1999, he said the business was left in “safe hands” and “will continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come”.
Leslie van der Walle, chairman of the firm, said Walters had had an “incredible journey” and was “at the forefront of the recruitment industry and building one of the world’s leading international recruitment groups”.
He added that Walters “helped the group successfully navigate the dotcom meltdown, global financial crisis and global pandemic and … will be leaving the group next month in great shape to continue its growth story.”
Shares of Robert Walters were up 2% at 502p on Friday morning, despite having lost around 18% of their value in the past 12 months.