Pre-tax profits at Hogg Robinson Group rose by 3% to £35.8 million in the year to March.

The travel management company said it expected to make further progress this year.

Online self-booking of travel in Europe was up from 30% to 36% in the past year.

Client travel activity grew by 8% year on year while travel spend was ahead by 3%, or 5% at constant currency.

Chief executive David Radcliffe said: “We made good progress against the strategic priorities we set out at the start of the year.

“These priorities are designed to grow our addressable market – in both our managed travel and technology businesses – and optimise our financial performance through the economic cycles.

“Looking ahead, our clear focus on achieving our strategic aims gives us confidence that HRG will make further progress through the rest of the year.”

HRG’s headline numbers show a 1% fall in revenue to £341 million, unchanged at constant currency.

“Business mix, specifically lower fees associated with clients migrating to online self-booking, coupled with strong competitive pricing, resulted in downward pressure on our top line,” the company said.

“The ongoing trend towards online self-booking of travel by clients continues as predicted and also results from our efforts to reduce the cost of travel and related expenditure for our clients.”

HRG added: “The recovery in the UK corporate travel market, which we first reported towards the end of last financial year, continued and strengthened through the current financial year.

“Compared to last year, travel spend was up by 11% and activity ahead by 15%, while the proportion of travel self-booked by clients online rose from 43% to 50%.

“We saw a business mix change to rail in the period largely as a result of increasing business with clients seeking lower cost, better alternatives to air and hotel.”

However, overall revenue in Europe was down 1.2% at constant currency. Underlying operating profit for the region fell by 2% to £34.9 million while North American operating profit rose by 3% to £10.4 million and Asia Pacific was up to £1.3 million from a loss of £300,000 in the previous 12 months.

Chairman John Coombe said: “The global economy, which drives the business activity that fuels our performance, improved in the US and, to a lesser extent, in the UK but has remained flat overall in continental Europe, while slowing growth in China and the rest of Asia Pacific has led to mixed economic outcomes.

“Working in this challenging environment our business volumes have increased but the resultant revenues have been somewhat affected by margin pressures due to competitive activity and business mix.

“However, the group has exceeded last year’s underlying profits. In the balance sheet, strong cash management has led to a good improvement in net debt levels to £65 million and the company is committed to continue this focus.”