City recruitment specialist's growth belies slow economy

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Buoyant figures from the City recruitment firm Robert Walters yesterday might suggest Britain's professional job market is roaring back into health – but the company's namesake founder was quick to repress any optimism.

The white-collar jobs firm saw its UK business growth triple from a muted 3 per cent last year to 9 per cent in the first three months of 2012. Net fees grew by £1m to £11.8m between January and March, compared with the same period in 2011.

But Mr Walters said that growth was not an indication of major jobs creation in the economy.

"The growth is a reflection of our outsourcing division doing well," he said. "We go in and do all the recruitment for corporates, checking visas and references.

"We've won contracts with a couple of large banks in the past few months. But the UK market is much the same as it has been for the past few months – not a disaster, but nothing to celebrate."

Mr Walters said the banking sector was still "quite difficult", adding: "It's slightly stagnant in the UK."

The recruiter has boosted its own staff numbers, from 2,047 at the end of December to 2,100 today. Overall net fees rose 12 per cent to £44.7m in the first quarter, led by Asia and Australia.