Packaging and label company Macfarlane Group has started the gradual recall of its employees from furlough as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

In the second quarter, around 30% of the company’s staff were furloughed through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The company announced a ‘strong’ trading performance in the first quarter of this year during the Annual General Meeting.

It also noted a 20% to 25% reduction of the 2019 level expected in the second quarter due to lockdown in late March.

The company said in a statement: “Our sales performance has been more resilient than previously anticipated in the second quarter of 2020 with total revenue only 7% down compared to the same period in 2019.

“We have continued to experience weakness in the automotive, aerospace and high street retail sectors but this has been partly offset by underlying strength in the e-commerce, medical, food and household essentials sectors, which demonstrates the benefit of our broad customer base.

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“This will result in sales for the half year, inclusive of the benefit of last year’s acquisitions, being 3% down on the first half in 2019.”

Macfarlane said that ‘meaningful’ trading guidance cannot be provided for the financial year ending 31 December 2020 but expects the business to remain profitable in 2020.

Late March, Macfarlane Group announced various measures in response to the effects of coronavirus, including members of the board taking 25% paycut, investors no longer receiving 1.76p per share, and executive directors delaying their 2019 bonuses during the pandemic.