Hogg Robinson Group predicts “brighter prospects” on the back of a rise in half-year profits.

The business travel organisation saw underlying pre-tax profits increase by 3% to £16 million despite flat revenue of £168 million in the six months to September 30.

Net debt was cut by 20% to £80 million in the period.

Client travel spend at constant currency was up by 4% with transaction activity ahead by 6%.

Around 40% of travel bookings were self-booked online by clients, up from about 36% a year earlier, with the geographic spread broadening.

The proportion of rail tickets booked by HRG’s UK business continues to grow at a faster rate than hotel or air. 

Rail transactions now account for more than a third of all transactions booked in the UK.

HRG has cut the number of offices in several countries as part of a £6.5 million cost-saving plan unveiled in May.

The company has made an exceptional charge of £2.6 million to cover redundancy costs and “onerous” lease provisions in the six months.

The company said it expected to see a “modest recovery” in the UK and North America while markets elsewhere in Europe and Asia remain weak.

Revenue in October was up by 1% on the same month last year, while trading in November was in line with expectations.

Chief executive David Radcliffe said HRG had made “steady progress” during the six months.

“Notwithstanding that we expect market conditions to remain similar to the first half for the remainder of the year, we see brighter prospects for the coming years driven by the actions we are taking and underlying market conditions,” he said.

“For the full year, we continue to anticipate a performance in line with current market expectations.”