Full-year pre-tax profits at Hogg Robinson Group fell by 8% to £23.2 million in one of its most “challenging” of years.

The business travel company said the decline for the 12 months to March 31 reflected “short-term challenges for which mitigating actions are ongoing”.

HRG reported further recovery in the UK and North American travel markets while conditions in Continental Europe and Asia Pacific will remain consistent with the past year.

Chief executive David Radcliffe described the period as “one of the most challenging” for the company in recent years, resulting in £2.6 million of cost cuts and job losses with the closure of offices in the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the Nordics region.

“As a result of these cost reduction actions, we have once again had to say goodbye to a number of our colleagues over the last year, many with long service,” Radcliffe said.

“It is always difficult to see colleagues leave and I thank them all for the service they have given to the group and wish them well for the future.”

The company revealed a faster-than-anticipated speed of switching by clients to online self-booking of travel, up by five percentage points year-on-year to 47% of all bookings.

“We responded by further reducing the size of the group’s network during the period and re-organising so that increasingly clients are serviced more efficiently via staff based in hub locations or by those working from home,” Radcliffe said.

“As always, however, the group aims to provide a superior level of service to all its clients, tailor made to meet their specific requirements.

“Clients will continue to be able to rely on the expertise and considerable experience of our staff to devise innovative and effective travel and expense management solutions to help them meet their objectives, and to provide them with valued support when unexpected events disrupt their travel plans.”

He added: “These structural changes are amongst a number of ongoing initiatives designed to reshape our business over the next few years.

“Our aim is to ‘get ahead of the curve’ as we seek to mitigate the effect of the short-term challenges that we face and ensure we benefit from the changes taking place in our industry.”

“While the group has undoubtedly been severely buffeted by the headwinds created by these and other challenges, we remain committed to our strategic priorities.”

Radcliffe added: “Our strategy for growth is unchanged. We will continue to restructure our business and adjust our cost base as appropriate.”