Why stem matters?

Humanity faces some big questions.
STEM has the answers.

STEM Science icon Science
STEM Technology icon Technology
STEM Engineering icon Engineering
STEM Mathematics icon Mathematics

Through tireless research and development, SThree candidates are creating medical solutions that have the potential to save millions of lives. For pharmacologists, biologists, physicists and many others, it’s much more than academic.

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Icon overlay For the past year, the Life Sciences sector has been a focal point in the world’s COVID-19 response. We are honoured to work alongside truly inspiring people who use their skills to make a difference.

Financial Highlights

2020 £1.2bn
2019 £1.3bn
2018 £1.2bn


2020 £309m
2019 £338m
2018 £317m

Net fees

2020 £31m
2019 £60m
2018 £54m

Adjusted operating profit

2020 £32m
2019 £58m
2018 £47m

Reported operating profit

2020 £50m
2019 £11m
2018 £(4)m

Net cash

2020 £14.2p
2019 £31.8p
2018 £26.6p

Basic earnings per share

2020 £13.9p
2019 £33.2p
2018 £30.7p

Adjusted basic earnings per share

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James Bilefield
Chair's statement

James Bilefield

We have seen our purpose of ‘bringing skilled people together to build the future’ brought to life this year more than ever.

Our opportunity is significant, our strategy is right and the improving sequential trends in our specialist STEM markets are favourable. We remain confident that the Group is primed to deliver for the long-term benefit of all of our stakeholders.

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Mark Dorman
Chief Executive Officer’s Statement

Mark Dorman

Focus on STEM and flexible working delivers effectively in particularly challenging times.

In 2020 we faced a once in a century event that provided a series of unprecedented tests. SThree not only dealt with those challenges but is emerging as a stronger business.

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Investment Case

SThree growth opportunity is substantial.

Our focus on the two long-term secular trends (STEM and flexible working) in our five strategic countries gives us a platform that enables us to scale and achieve long-term profitable growth, whilst making a net positive impact on the world. These are the things we believe set us apart from our peers and demonstrate our unique proposition.

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Investment case background
Capitalising on two major secular growth trends Clear focus on the best STEM regions Building a world-class operational platform Strong cash generation Ambitious management team focused on quality execution ESG - building a sustainable future
Our business model

Why we exist

Our purpose is bringing skilled people together to build the future.

Our resources

Our people

Our people are the key differentiator in our ability to deliver outstanding customer service.

Platform dynamics

We benefit from economies of scale across our entire value chain. Our technology and innovation enable us to build best practice once and scale it multiple times.

Global presence

We have market-leading positions in core STEM regions with the highest growth opportunity: the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Japan.

STEM talent pipeline

Supported by market-leading sourcing techniques, we are experts in nurturing our existing candidates, identifying new candidate pools and developing candidate communities across our chosen markets.

Market intelligence

We are well equipped with advanced data analytics tools to identify new candidate pools, respond to emerging employment trends and take advantage of new market opportunities.

What we do

We source and place STEM talent across four major sectors: Life Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Banking & Finance.

How we operate

Venn diagram
1 2 3 4 5 6

We select the best STEM markets

  • Rapid growth markets where technological change is at full speed with demand outstripping supply.
  • A focus on sectors with a high demand for Contract roles.
  • These markets have a Permanent opportunity to complement the Contract service.

We build candidate communities

We source high volume and specialist STEM roles via:

  • Innovative digital marketing and targeting techniques.
  • Specialist consultants.
  • Career development opportunities including industry events, networking and Thought Leadership.
  • Multi-channel campaigns.

We serve our clients

  • Develop direct relationships with clients, candidates, and business partners.
  • Localised and flexible approach considering client preferences and complex regulatory landscapes across all regions.

We earn fees mainly on a recurring basis

Percentage of Group net fees:

  • 76% are contract fees, earned on an ongoing basis for the duration of the contract, with the Group paying contractors and retaining a portion of the amount charged as a service fee.
  • 24% are permanent fees, charged as a percentage of the candidate’s salary when a candidate is placed with a client.
  • Our weighting towards Contract allows for a predictable, stable revenue stream that is likely to continue in the future.

We innovate for an outstanding customer experience

  • Leveraging technology to streamline operations, improve customer experience, and build a diverse portfolio of services.

We have clear and efficient allocation of capital to fund business growth

  • We maintain a strong financial position whilst creating capacity for value-enhancing investment opportunities.
  • We apply laser focus on the execution of all capital choices. Funds are invested in selective programmes expected to deliver high returns over time.

Creating value for our stakeholders

and supporting the ethos of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Candidate communities

Offering candidates purposeful, sustainable careers where we nurture their development and build skills for the future.


Sourcing diverse talent for our clients and closing the significant skills gap in key markets around the world.


In 2020, we employed over 2,600 colleagues in 15 countries across 45 offices. We provide purposeful employment to our colleagues and are committed to developing diverse talent within our business.


We are committed to delivering long term value to our shareholders and maintaining a sustainable dividend.


We source the talent needed to build a future fuelled by clean energy, partnering with clients on a number of decarbonisation projects. We are also committed to reducing our own carbon footprint and our aim is to reduce our absolute emissions by 20% by 2024.


We add value to communities through facilitating decent, sustainable work. We utilise our intellectual capital to empower people to overcome the barriers to employment and build pathways into STEM careers.

Our strategy

Driving our business forward and underpinning our ongoing success.

Our strategy image
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Our stakeholders

How we engage and
foster strong relationships

Clients & Candidates People Local communities Shareholders

Why we engage

Regular engagement with our clients and candidates builds trust, strengthens business relationships, and helps to widen the reach of our brands.

Our better understanding of clients and candidates helps us adapt our business and strategy by investing in the right vertical niches and improving and developing a service proposition.

How we engage

This year our recruiting consultants communicated with our clients and candidates through multiple new online channels, ensuring regular interaction to understand how clients and candidates were navigating the health crisis, and to gather insights to inform our approach moving forward. Our consultants also launched pulse surveys, delivered Thought Leadership articles, issued videos, and organised virtual events and webinars.

Our response to key matters raised in 2020

We deepened our understanding of challenges faced by candidates in current STEM job markets; client emerging preferences and buying behaviours; new trends in candidate selection and placement; and a rise in supply of, and demand for, flexible working arrangements giving access to a broader pool of candidates.

The insights were used by the Board to refine the Group service proposition and to make well-informed investment decisions to drive even stronger sales execution. We invested in our sales operating model, by digitalizing internal processes, and modernising operational systems in local support functions.

Why we engage

Our people are the lifeblood of SThree. We recognise that employee engagement is essential to enhancing our company culture, retaining our talent and is a major factor driving efficiency, customer relationships and therefore profitability.

How we engage

We maintain a constructive and ongoing dialogue with our people through regular pulse surveys, employee-led forums, business resource groups, CEO Town Halls and Q&A sessions, as well as the Group intranet, social media channels, webinars and face-to-face meetings. We also have a dedicated Non-Executive Director, Denise Collis, who runs a series of focus groups to ensure a two-way dialogue between our people and the Board.

Our response to key matters raised in 2020

The ongoing wellbeing and engagement within our teams was a top priority. We launched various initiatives to drive engagement and foster a sense of community and inclusion across our teams.

We developed a wellbeing programme to help our people look after their body, self-purpose, and personal growth. We invested in our digital learning platform and we accelerated the implementation and actions within our global D&I strategy.

Why we engage

Our business model is built around communities. Our candidates, clients, and colleagues are instrumental within their local community. It is within these communities that we source our business opportunities – when our community thrives, our business thrives, and vice versa.

We also address the growing risk of climate change within our local communities; this strengthens our business and facilitates our growth plans.

How we engage

Through our work we source, nurture and place talent who solve complex world challenges. We partner with clients to deliver the skills needed to work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We help communities to develop the skills needed for a sustainable future. This includes delivering a variety of employability initiatives to build diverse talent and help reduce unemployment in underserved communities.

Our response to key matters raised in 2020

We witnessed an unprecedented need to support communities as we continued to navigate the global health crisis. Our response was to increase our support to local communities through various initiatives and programmes such as STEM Career Pathways, and other webinars and virtual skills development sessions during which we provided employability support.

Why we engage

We aim to instil confidence in our investors and win their trust in, and long-term support of, our business. It is critical that we share with our investors complete, accurate and understandable information about our strategy and the operational and financial performance of SThree.

How we engage

We communicate through formal regulatory announcements, webinars, press releases and more directly through investor roadshows covering both larger institutions internationally as well as targeted sections of the UK private wealth and retail investor community.

Throughout the year there is an ongoing dialogue between the Chair, other Non-Executive Directors, and the investor community to address governance and/or strategy matters.

Our response to key matters raised in 2020

In the environment that we faced in 2020, our investors wanted to understand what pressures we had to overcome and our ability to adapt to exceptional circumstances and crucially, how we can remain a valuable and reliable business.

We communicated all relevant information about measures and decisions which affected shareholders, and which were taken to ensure our business remained on a strong financial footing in the short term, whilst retaining the skills, capacity and management capability to fulfil our long-term ambitions.

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