Afarak Group PLC (LON:AFRK) said it is hopeful that the progress of vaccination programmes will help spark a recovery in demand for stainless steel and hence chrome.

The Helsinki- based alloys specialist reported 39% lower revenues in the end year to end-December 2020 at €59.8mln, with lower volumes and prices affecting the second half.

A profit from discontinued operations enabled the group to post a second-half profit, but the continuing businesses saw a deficit during the half of €13.3mln and €17.9mln for the year overall.

Guy Konsbriuck, chief executive, said: “During H2/20, the business conditions for the chrome industry have remained weak.

“Except for China, the pandemic has had a strong grip on all economies, which kept the stainless steel market in a very subdued status.

“Our Specialty Alloys segment continued to perform in a more satisfactory way, given the circumstances.

“Low Carbon ferrochrome prices remained under pressure, and our efforts to right-size the production with the actual demand leads to a lower level of fixed cost absorption and ultimately higher cost of production.

“In consequence, the Speciality Alloys segment performance was slightly negative.”

He added that the main priorities for the group in 2021 are stability and consistency of operational and financial performance, ‘especially to increase the volumes and profitability of the specialty segment’.