Recruiter Robert Walters’ blamed a “cocktail of confusion” for a profit warning today, as UK revenues dropped 11 per cent on the back of Brexit uncertainty and a darkening global economic outlook.
However, chief executive Robert Walters insisted the UK economy is not yet in the doldrums, and said a no-deal Brexit would be better for business than another delay.
Brexit, the fallout of increasingly violent Hong Kong protests and ongoing tensions in the US-China trade war mean the recruitment giant now believes full-year profit will be flat year on year.
The issue of when and even if the UK will leave the EU fuelled a fall in Robert Walters’ UK fee income from £27.9m in last year’s third quarter to £24.8m this year.
That offset a 10 per cent year-on-year rise to £26.9m in Europe fees and a nine per cent jump in Asia-Pacific income to £44.8m.
Overall net fee growth hit four per cent to stand at £105.6m.
“It’s a cocktail of confusion,” Walters told City A.M. “We have got US-China trade war tensions, and a US-Europe trade war threat and Brexit uncertainty and Hong Kong riots.”
“There may be some spillover into other locations,” he also warned, as fellow recruiter Page Group took a similar hit from political uncertainty.
But Walters was insistent the turmoil was simply political, despite downturns in UK manufacturing, the services sector and the construction industry.
“Companies are doing fine people just aren’t moving jobs because they don’t know what’s happening in the world,” he said, adding that it could hit the economy if Brexit is not resolved.
“What would be good for us is anything – a decision, I don’t care which way it goes as long as it’s [certainty],” Walters added. “People need confidence to move jobs and hire people.
“If it’s a no-deal Brexit that will create job opportunities in terms of technology and customs checks and there’s all sorts of stuff that will happen.
“If there’s a deal it will pacify businesses and they will get on with making decisions.”
Main image credit: Getty