Hogg Robinson hit as firms cut travel

CORPORATE travel firm Hogg Robinson said yesterday that full-year pre-tax profit had slid 39 per cent, and that it expects the current market conditions to remain challenging.<br /><br />&ldquo;We do not expect much change to the current market conditions during 2009 and have adjusted our cost base to reflect that expectation,&rdquo; said chief executive David Radcliffe.<br /><br />Hogg Robinson said companies across all sectors had cut back on corporate travel in the second half of the year, but said that its fee-based business model and flexibility for seeing it through the recession so far.<br /><br />The company has also been forced to cut its own costs, reducing staff numbers during the year.<br /><br />But the world&rsquo;s fourth biggest corporate travel firm added that, historically, corporate travel business is more resilient than other travel-related businesses during economic uncertainty, and that it was in good shape to take advantage of the economic recovery when it takes places.<br /><br />For the year ending 31 March, the company&rsquo;s pre-tax profit fell to &pound;15.4m from &pound;25.2m, while revenue rose 5.7 per cent to &pound;351.3m.<br /><br />Hogg Robinson said it had reduced its year-end net debt by &pound;25m to &pound;85m, but axed its final dividend to save cash.<br /><br />As a result, Hogg Robinson&rsquo;s total dividend for the year was 1.2p per share, compared with last year&rsquo;s total dividend of 4p per share. Hogg Robinson shares closed 1 per cent lower at 23p.