- Professional services group Norman Broadbent said it returned to profitability in 2019 after its sales rose by more than a fifth.

The company said it had made a 'positive' start to the new financial year and continued to grow fee income, even amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Revenue for the year through December rose 22% to £11.5m, on the back of 15% growth in net fee income.

'Building on the 2019 results, the group commenced 2020 positively, Norman Broadbent said.

Net fee income for the for months through April 2020 had risen 12% on-year.

'Significantly, the group saw strong contributions from interim and solutions offsetting challenging general market conditions for search,' the company said.

A small number of staff had been furloughed, it added.

'The first six weeks of the lockdown were characterised by the predictable slowing of search activity,' Norman Broadbent said.

'However, as the group now has a wider range of services creating greater balance and substantial resilience, the interim and solutions markets have yielded business opportunities from new and existing clients.'

'Additional emphasis has been placed on cash collections and reduction in debtor days in 2020.'

'This, combined with positive EBITDA in March and April, has helped protect cashflow and the group's cash position.'

'In addition, management has prudently applied for government schemes where appropriate.'

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