Miller Fisher, the loss adjuster group, reported losses of £16.8m, up from £3.1m last year.

The company's turnover fell by £7m to £41.2m from £48.3m the year before, as it lost a number of valuable accounts.

Finance director Richard Horton argued that the results, which equate to a loss of 10.6p a share, reflect not only a very difficult period for trading, but also the high costs of restructuring the business.

The group has slashed back its branch network and made redundancies to cut its cost base by £8m.

It also has new management, under chief executive Malcolm Hughes.

Miller Fisher now operates from 12 service centres. This is down from 30 almost 15 months ago .

It has also lost about 12 "expensive" staff and up to 30 overall.

It took a hit of £5.1m for exceptional expenses during the year.

Horton said the company had stopped shrinking: "We are not expecting turnover in 2002 to be significantly different from 2001.

"Since we announced the restructuring in December we've lost no clients and in fact we've won clients."

Miller Fisher's shares, which have been almost worthless for months, rose by 0.5p to 3.5p on the results. They were trading at 3.75p on Monday morning.