Trading Update, Norman Broadbent PLC, 2020-05-18

RNS Number : 1177N
Norman Broadbent PLC
18 May 2020

Norman Broadbent plc

(“Norman Broadbent” or “the Group”)

Trading Update

The Norman Broadbent Group (AIM: NBB), a leading London quoted Professional Services firm offering a diversified portfolio of integrated Leadership Acquisition & Advisory Services (Board & Leadership Search, Senior Interim Management, Research & Insight, Leadership Consulting & Assessment, and executive-level Talent Solutions) is pleased to provide an update on year-to-date trading and the timing of its results.

As reported in January, Norman Broadbent returned to profitability for the full year to 31 December 2019. This return to profitability evidenced the success of the Group’s strategy, turnaround, and transformation. 

2019 preliminary results highlights included:

·    Group Revenues increased year-on-year by 22% to £11.5m (2018 £9.4m)

·    Group Net Fee Income (“NFI”) increased year-on-year by 15% to £7.6m (2018 £6.6m)

·    Group returned to full year profit 

The table below represents the progress made by the Group since 2017. 

                                                                      2017       2018       2019                                                       

Group revenue (£m)                                  6.5          9.4          11.5

Net fee income (£m)                                  5.0          6.6          7.6

Building on the 2019 results, the Group commenced 2020 positively. Despite lockdown impacting markets in March and April, the Group recorded a 12% increase in NFI (Jan-April 2020) compared to the same four-month period in 2019. Significantly, the Group saw strong contributions from Interim and Solutions offsetting challenging general market conditions for Search.

As concerns about COVID-19 began to emerge, management began proactively planning. This enabled the Group to move swiftly in March. Staffing changes were made ensuring the Group was appropriately positioned for any period of uncertainty. Accordingly, a small number of staff were furloughed or released from their contracts with the remaining team members moving quickly to remote working.   

As the Group embraced technology to assist in remote working and continued candidate and client interaction, trading has continued uninterrupted as staff seamlessly adapted to the new working environment. This not only highlights the agility of the Norman Broadbent team, but also evidences the strength of the 40-year old brand, and the Group’s more diverse portfolio of services, which are particularly relevant in today’s markets.   

The first six weeks of the lockdown were characterised by the predictable slowing of Search activity. However, as the Group now has a wider range of services creating greater balance and substantial resilience, the Interim and Solutions markets have yielded business opportunities from new and existing clients. There is also interest in the Group’s Research & Insight services as clients prepare and plan for the post-COVID era. In addition, the investment made over recent years in digital marketing is continuing to impact results positively as business is developed with new and existing clients. Whilst there has been some reduction in revenues, to date these have been offset by the sensible and prudent cost measures taken. 

Additional emphasis has been placed on cash collections and reduction in debtor days in 2024. This, combined with positive EBITDA in March and April, has helped protect cashflow and the Group’s cash position. In addition, management has prudently applied for government schemes where appropriate. 

Prior to lockdown, the Group successfully relocated its London office to Millbank Tower whilst also opening new operations in the North.  A full risk assessment of the Group’s office accommodation has taken place and, as of Monday May 18th, staff will be able to return to a safe working environment compliant with UK government guidelines. The efficiency and size available in both offices means that full social distancing and a ‘safe to work environment’ can be achieved with no incremental cost.   

The Group had planned to publish its 2019 results in April 2020. However, in common with numerous other companies, the completion of the audit and hence the publication of results has been delayed by COVID-19. We will provide a further update to shareholders in due course relating to the timing of the publication of these audited results. 

Group CEO Mike Brennan said:

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Norman Broadbent team for their exceptional work this year and, particularly, during this recent challenging period. I would also like to welcome Steve Smith, our new Group CFO & COO, to the Board, replacing Will Gerrand. Steve, along with the Senior Leadership Team, has been exceptional in helping us navigate these choppy waters.  The health and safety of our staff and stakeholders is of paramount importance, and I am delighted that we have been able to continue working safely and uninterrupted whilst maintaining high levels of client service, all achieved whilst working remotely. I am genuinely proud of our team – they have pulled together at this difficult time and clearly exhibited the strong values which bind us together.” 

For further information, please contact:

Norman Broadbent Group plc

Mike Brennan (CEO) and Steve Smith (CFO & COO) – 020 7484 0000

WH Ireland Limited

(Nominated Adviser and Broker)

Adrian Hadden – 020 7220 1666

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