- Recruitment and training company Staffline forecast an underlying operating profit 'marginally ahead' of market expectations.

Revenue, underlying earnings, working capital and cash generation had all improved in the second half of the year through December, the company said.

'The group made significant progress in 2020, improving its operational, financial and governance processes and board composition, including strengthening the group's financial position through a successful refinancing in June 2020,' it added.

Staffline said it experienced strong demand for temporary recruitment from the food, driving, logistics and e-commerce sectors in 2020, though the manufacturing, retail and automotive industries continued to be more challenging.

'Despite the national lockdown in November and restrictions in December, the Group still experienced a strong Christmas trading peak, with significant demand from the group's food retail customers,' it said.

'Furthermore, e-commerce and logistics experienced a very strong trading period as a result of consumers transitioning to online retail.'

Net debt had fallen to a better-than-expected level of around £9.0 million.

'The broader impact of the Covid pandemic, which has caused disruption globally, has created both opportunities and challenges across Staffline,' the company said.

'Whilst the current lockdown has not caused the significant spike in food customer demand first seen in March 2020, volumes still remain high and look set to continue until Covid restrictions ease across the UK.'

'PeoplePlus took actions to reduce its cost base in the first half of 2020, together with implementing new digital operating models, however it continues to experience disruption to many of its classroom-based services as a result of the pandemic.'

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