SCRAP metal and steel trader John Lawrie Group has posted a fall in annual revenues and profits, though the company has also hired more staff and cut its debt in the past year.

The Aberdeen-based group's turnover fell 16 per cent to £89.6million during 2013, according to accounts recently filed at Companies House.

The company, which trades across Europe, North America, China and the Middle East, did not give a reason for the decline in revenues.

The firm said in its accounts that it "had a successful trading year in all its activities" and that it continued to seek new work in the UK and abroad.

The group's pre-tax profits fell to £2.9m from £3.4m in the previous year, making 2013 the second consecutive year of declining profits and taking the firm to its lowest earnings since 2009.

Part of this decline came from an impairment booked on a £1.2m investment that was not named but was specified as being "listed on an overseas stock exchange".

Earlier this year, the firm decided to close its fragmentiser business, which crushes and shreds whole cars for recycling.

John Lawrie, which is owned by its directors, stuck to its long-standing policy of not paying a dividend. A management team led by Brian Meldrum took control of the firm in the 1980s.

Staffing costs rose from £6.9m to £7.3m as the number of employees rose from 84 to 92. The highest-paid director, who was not named but is thought to be Mr Meldrum, was paid £1.14m, up from £939,000 in the prior year, but below the £2.1m he was paid in 2006.

The group's debts dropped from £9.5m to £3.6m, chiefly because of a £4m bank overdraft that was repaid during the year.

Steel prices have been volatile in the past few years as demand from China wobbled, which has had an effect on the value of scrap steel.

As well as trading scrap metal, John Lawrie sells pipes and other equipment to oil rigs from its bases in Aberdeen and Houston in the USA. The group has sites in Montrose, Evanton in Ross-shire, and Birmingham.

The company, which was founded in the 1930s, renewed its sponsorship of League Two football team Montrose FC's home kit this summer. The firm also supported Inverurie swimmer Hannah Miley during the 2012 Olympics.

The Scottish government is preparing to introduce tougher licensing rules for scrap metal dealers, including a ban on cash payments, in an attempt to reduce fraud and theft. It follows a similar crackdown in England and Wales in 2013.