Healthcare services provider UDG Healthcare has said its board and senior executive team have voluntarily agreed to take a 20% reduction in their respective fees and base salary for at least the next three months amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a trading update for the six months to the end of March, UDG Healthcare said it had made a strong start to the financial year.

It said its constant currency profit before tax for the six months period is well ahead of the same period last year, due to good underlying growth and the benefit of acquisitions made in 2019.

But it added that it expects lower activity levels than previously anticipated during the second half of the year due to the ramifications of Covid-19 on the company. 

Given the ongoing uncertainty and near-term challenges presented by Covid-19, the company said it is withdrawing its constant currency earnings per share for the year. 

UDG Healthcare said it had set up a global response team in the initial stages of the outbreak across the group and each of its divisions and business units allowing it to implement measures swiftly to protect its staff.

It is also actively adopting cost control measures to mitigate the potential negative impacts from Covid-19. 

These measures included the reduction of appropriate variable costs; tight control of discretionary expenditure; a recruitment freeze; reducing freelancer expenditure; and a temporary reduction in labour including reduced working hours and furloughing of employees.

The company's Sharp division - which packages critical and in some cases life-saving medicines for patients - has been categorised as essential and therefore continues to operate.

"While demand within Sharp remains very robust, temporary disruption to production schedules and capacity resulting from the additional health and safety measures, along with workforce availability, is expected to reduce our efficiency and revenue," the company stated.

Brendan McAtamney, chief executive of UDG Healthcare, said that during this "challenging period", the company's focus first and foremost is on protecting the health and wellbeing of its people and serving its clients. 

"UDG Healthcare is a well-diversified business and we have delivered a strong first half performance, driven by the performance of both Ashfield and Sharp. Our balance sheet remains robust and we are taking a number of decisive actions to support our people, our customers and the long-term future of our business," he said. 

"We have confidence in the market fundamentals that underpin our business, and I have no doubt the actions we are taking now will ensure we emerge from this crisis well placed to deliver renewed strong growth over the medium term," the CEO added.