Robert Walters sees hiring boost from firms moving to Southeast Asia

By Prerna Bedi and Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) – Robert Walters has seen an increase in hiring by clients who are moving to Southeast Asia as Western companies seek to reduce their reliance on China, the global recruitment company said on Tuesday.

Numerous companies have moved their operations to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, with sectors ranging from “very large U.S. retail businesses, technology businesses, manufacturing businesses, particularly to places like Vietnam”, Robert Walters CEO Toby Fowlston told Reuters.

His comments come at a time when Western companies and economies are diversifying to other parts of Asia as they look at de-risking supply chains to reduce reliance on China, where market conditions have been challenging.

“But where we are not necessarily succeeding (in) China at the moment, we’re obviously getting the gains of that with a lot of the offshoring that’s going to places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia,” Fowlston said.

Net fees from Thailand rose 14% in the quarter to September, the London-headquartered firm said.

Robert Walters, which helps hire staff in six Southeast Asian countries, said net fee income from its largest region Asia-Pacific fell 24% in the quarter ended Sept. 30, primarily weighed down by Mainland China, Australia and New Zealand.

British recruiters have been flagging slower recovery of the Chinese economy as one of the major reasons for a fall in net fees along with a lull in other major markets of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Overall, the recruiter posted a 17% fall in quarterly net fees.

(Reporting by Prerna Bedi and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)