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Robert Walters' profit hit by Brexit, trade tensions

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(Reuters) – Recruiter Robert Walters Plc <RWA.L> said on Tuesday it does not expect its annual earnings to grow this year as geo-political problems such as Brexit, the U.S.-China trade spat and violent protests in Hong Kong puts a squeeze on hiring.

Shares of the small-cap company <.FTSC> were seen trading 10% lower on Tuesday.

The deepening crisis over when, how or even if Britain leaves the European Union has hit every sector of the domestic economy, including the labour market. British companies’ demand for new staff increased in September at the weakest rate in almost eight years, a survey showed earlier on Tuesday.

A drawn-out trade war between Beijing and Washington has also bruised some of the world’s biggest economies, raising fears of a global recession.

Rival PageGroup Plc <PAGE.L> also warned on Tuesday its annual operating profit will be lower than previously forecasted, blaming the same set-backs.

“As a result of these macro uncertainties, the group now anticipates delivering annual profits in line with the prior year,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Walters said.

The company, which operates in more than 30 countries, said overall gross profit rose 4% to 105.6 million pounds ($129.86 million) for the quarter ended Sept. 30. Gross profit in the UK fell 11% in the same period.

Robert Walters also said it cut its global headcount by 2% to 4,258.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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