Recruitment company CPL says it is benefitting from strong employment growth in Ireland and skills shortages in certain sectors. The company this morning reported a 6.6% rise in full year revenue to €394m and a 7% increase in gross profit to €59m, though its pre-tax profit fell 2% to €14m.

Meanwhile, the company also said today that it has bought a pharmaceutical and life sciences recruiting specialist in the UK which, coincidentally, also has the initials CPL. CPL has acquired just under 90% of Clinical Professionals Limited. The deal is worth €8m of which €5.1m has been paid with the remainder contingent on certain targets being met.

CPL Resources' chief executive Anne Heraty says the country has seen really strong growth in employment, especially over the last 18 months or so. Ms Heraty says that some sectors are growing very fast, including the technology, life sciences and financial sectors. The recovery is largely broadbased, which is good news, she adds.

While some skill shortages are emerging in a number of sectors, particularly in ICT and pharma, Ms Heraty says the company is able to source workers for these sectors internationally. She says the company's permanent placement fees are up 16%, while its temporary placement fees also rose strongly during the last year. CPL is seeing a growth in the number of permanent jobs and a reduction in the number of temporary ones as people move into full time roles. But its CEO says that there is a huge desire for flexibility with a rise in the freelancer.

MORNING BRIEFS - Branch closures and job cuts have been the pattern for several years now in Irish retail banking but that may be changing. AIB is expected to announce the opening of three new branches later this morning, its first in some years. The bank has closed more than 60 branches since the financial crisis.

*** The executive council of the Irish Farmers Association has issued a statement backing insurer FBD, in which the co-op Farmers Business Development is the biggest single shareholder. IFA president Eddie Downey said it intends to support a new bond which FBD will issue through which it will borrow money to improve its solvency levels. The insurer recently announced a €96m half year loss and has announced plans to scale back its business and cut jobs in order to reduce costs and return the company to profitability.

*** Star Wars has helped Lego to victory in the toy wars raging between itself and rival Mattel. Thanks in part to strong sales of Star Wars themed Lego the Danish company's sales first half sales overtook those of Mattel, with which it has been vying for the title of world's biggest toymaker Lego reported a 23% rise in first half sales to $2.1 billion compared to $1.9 billion at Mattel, which saw its sales fall slightly during the period.