Recruitment firms from both ends of the employment spectrum have posted significant rises in half-time profits, despite concerns of an economic slowdown.

Upmarket consultancy Robert Walters - which specialises in the recruitment of professionals to the accounting, legal, banking and financial sectors - said business had shown no signs of letting up despite the fear of a "credit crunch".

Pre-tax profits were up 41 per cent to £11.4million, on net fee income 17 per cent higher at £61.5 million. The group is lifting its interim dividend by 17 per cent to 1.35 pence a share.

Chief executive Robert Walters said: "The main driver of our profits has been the continued shortage of high-quality business professionals. All our regions have performed well and current trading remains strong."

Mr Walters added that he was confident that the firm - which has an office in Birmingham's Brindleyplace - would meet analyst forecasts of annual pretax profit of £23.5 million.

At the other end of scale, Midlands-based Staffline Recruitment, which supplies 'blue collar' workers for a range of manufacturing industries, said it was benefiting from growth in its OnSite business.

First half pretax profits for the Nottingham-based group jumped by 40 per cent to £1.4 million in the six months to the end of June - ahead of market expectations. Sales were up 52 per cent at £52.3 million. The interim dividend was raised 30 per cent to 1.3 pence a share.

Managing director Andy Hogarth said the five-year-old OnSite division now generated 60 per cent of the group's revenue.

He added: "We're spending a lot of time selling that offer, but we also benefit from the fact that, once we've won one OnSite contract with a client, we go on to win more.

"It helps us develop a close relationship and makes it much harder to get pushed out again."

Mr Hogarth added that Staffline, which specialises in the food production market, was well placed to face a economic downturn if it was to appear.

He said: "We're at the chicken nugget end of life rather than foie gras, so if there was an economic downturn, we would be well positioned to weather that storm. People will still continue to eat."

The company was also looking for another boost to turnover in the second half, Mr Hogarth said, as the seasonal effects of the OnSite division begin to show on the balance sheet.

He said: "The OnSite business is usually split with one-third of revenue created in the first half and two-thirds in the second half, as the lead up to Christmas creates more jobs.

"We're now through the first two months of the second half and we continue to be on budget to meet that."

Staffline has also benefitted from a continued influx of foreign workers into the UK. The proportion of EU workers on the group's books increased from 52 per cent to 60 per cent last year.

Mr Hogarth said: "These people are hard workers and want to earn money. They have been the main drivers to our revenues and profits over the past few years as manufacturers look for a solid, reliable and affordable workforce."

Staffline is also benefiting from the Gang-master Licensing Act, which was brought in to protect migrant workers from illegal 'gang-masters' - the most high-profile example being the tragic death of 21 Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2005.

Mr Hogarth said: "Since the legislation has been introduced, 29 gangmasters have had their licences revoked, while another 30 have been refused a licence.

"Staffline has benefited from this change as food suppliers have looked for a reputable firm to take control of their workers' interests. We're the only quoted plc doing this type of recruitment for the food processing industry, so Staffline is being viewed as the leader with a good reputation."

For the full year to the end of December, analysts currently look for pretax profits of around £4.4 million.

Mr Hogarth said the firm would continue to look to expand through organic growth and would only consider acquisition if a suitable opportunity presented itself.

He said: "We are getting requests to buy businesses on almost a daily basis at the moment. But organic growth is cheaper and we would not consider buying another business unless it was a tight fit to Staffline and could be easily integrated."