Our strong performance across our global markets this year is a result of our diverse business model and investing in the right things: our people, the community and the services we deliver for clients.
I am delighted with our financial results in 2018–2019: net revenue was up £79m, 16 percent growth on the prior year. Most of our global regions were operating in challenging markets, which makes the growth we have accomplished even more impressive.
Three of our seven regions achieved net revenue growth rates in excess of 20 percent; we had particular success in the Americas, where net revenue grew by 29 percent. In Europe, we posted strong results up 33 percent on the previous year, and secured strong growth in the UK, our largest region.
Importantly, we also saw our overall operating margin increase to 11.7 percent, reflecting an improved mix of revenue.
As the businesses we work with have felt increasing pressure to do more with less, we have stepped forward to drive better performance and to effect change, which has implications across the world.
In real estate and infrastructure, our ability to manage complex portfolios and to enhance the performance of major programmes became increasingly sought after, while we saw a welcome return to growth in the natural resources sector as the pace of investment started to accelerate after four slow years.
Across all our work, we recognise our obligation not just to produce good results but to do so in a purposeful way. Our partnership model has allowed us to take a forward look and to create the conditions to grow the business for the benefit of all our stakeholders. We are committed to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals as a way of shaping our efforts.
We believe that clients want to work with, and our people want to work for, responsible businesses.
Embracing our obligations to our stakeholders will provide us with significant competitive advantage.
I'm proud of the fact that our commitment to communities where we operate has continued to flourish with a focus on social mobility. Our volunteering days have increased again this year and we have committed over £500,000 to our social programmes.
As with all our investments, we continue to take a long-term view, building resilience and creating a platform for further success.
During the year, we focused on three distinct areas of investment. Firstly, we continued to invest in building capacity around our global footprint, welcoming over 2,000 new people to the business.
We now employ more than 6,100 experts supporting clients on projects around the world.
We want to build an inclusive, diverse and energised workforce.
As a result, we have continued to develop one of the industry’s largest graduate programmes and have committed significant investment in our learning and development programmes.
Localisation remains a key driver in all our markets. I’m pleased we are making good progress building local talent pools as we seek to offer clients the best service in all our locations.
Secondly, we continued to develop our service model, focusing on growing stronger programme advisory and asset management capability. We experienced high demand for our new Programme Advisory business, as projects around the world became more complex.
Through this, we have influenced industry and policy, and enabled clients to deliver the transformation needed to realise sustainable benefits quicker across the project lifecycle.
Thirdly, we initiated our largest-ever investment in digital services with ambition to put data at the heart of what we do. We pursued new ways of working in order to improve productivity and helped clients to develop both smart assets and buildings that will perform better over their lifetime.
I am excited by the opportunities that lie ahead to reshape our industry. The next decade will see investment in capital programmes accelerate, as the demand for infrastructure and smart cities rapidly expands.
Mature countries need to rebuild ageing infrastructure to remain competitive, while population growth in emerging markets will continue to fuel demand for better infrastructure. All markets will need to respond to the shift towards a carbon-neutral future.
I believe we can have the greatest impact by helping our industry modernise and build solutions to tackle the challenges we now face.
For us that means embracing technology, making design for manufacture the norm and delivering world-class asset management.
But we cannot achieve this without the backing of our people and I would like to thank all our staff across the many markets we operate in. Our results are a testament to their dedication, collaboration and absolute commitment to making a difference.