May 05, 2020
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Business continuity and financial stability ensured; supporting customers through the crisis while preparing to capitalise in the recovery

Summary and highlights


  • Revenues down 9% year-on-year on a reported basis, and also organically1 and trading days adjusted (TDA)
  • Sharp revenue slowdown in March (-19% TDA), further accelerating in April (approx. -40%), reflecting unprecedented lockdown measures implemented in many countries in response to COVID-19
  • Gross margin remained resilient, up 20 bps yoy to 19.3%, supported by market leadership in LHH (career transition)
  • EBITA2 margin excluding one-offs3 3.0%, down 100 bps yoy, impacted by the abrupt revenue decline in March
  • Strong financial position and liquidity: Net Debt/EBITDA4 excluding one-offs 0.3x, EUR 1.4 billion cash on hand, EUR 600 million undrawn Revolving Credit Facility, supported by resilient
    through-the-cycle cash flow dynamics. Share buyback paused due to COVID-19 crisis
  • Goodwill impairment in Germany, Austria, Switzerland of EUR 362 million, linked to COVID-19 crisis
  • Continued investment and progress in the Group’s strategic priorities – GrowTogether, IT and the Ventures



“The COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures have created an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. We are fortunate to have entered the crisis in a position of financial and operational strength with a strong balance sheet, good liquidity and robust IT infrastructure, due to the transformation work we have undertaken over the past few years. Throughout the crisis, our primary focus has been on securing the wellbeing and safety of our colleagues and associates, supporting our clients to manage their human capital needs, and responding in an agile way as the environment rapidly shifts. In a short period of time we were able to switch to a virtual operating model, with 80% of our global colleagues working from home. The recent investments we made in IT and digital allowed us to recruit, sell and operate our middle- and back-offices in a fully remote way.


We maintained a disciplined approach to cost management through the first quarter, while not losing sight of our long-term strategic priorities, which will position our business well when the recovery comes. We launched our Integrated Front-Office in Japan in Q1, with further roll-outs planned in France and Spain in Q2, we continued to build our digital products pipeline, and we remained committed to investing 30 bps of margin into the Ventures in 2020.


With April revenues down around 40% year-on-year, we expect Q2 to be a challenging quarter. In the short-term, we are working hard to minimise the financial impact, while also remaining focused on positioning the business for longer-term success by continuing to invest in our Perform, Transform, Innovate strategy.


Most importantly, I would like to express my gratitude to our colleagues around the world for their continued work and dedication through these exceptionally challenging circumstances.”


Alain Dehaze, Group Chief Executive Officer