Compass Group works up appetite for acquisitions

Giant global contract caterer Compass Group
has reported healthy operating profits of over £1bn, up 13 per cent on the year
to September.

The company sells food and drink to major
sporting events and venues, including Wimbledon.

When the results were announced last week,
along with a 30 per cent rise in the dividend, the stock price rose over seven
per cent.

Compass reported its new business is up a
more modest 3.5 per cent, on a revenue rise of 7.6 per cent to
£14.5bn.

Armed with a war chest estimated at £1.5bn, CEO Richard
Cousins admitted he was on the mergers and acquisition
trail.

City analysts said the likely route would be
for small to medium-sized bolt-ons,
although Cousins said: “You can never say no to a major purchase if it can be
shown to be in the interests of our shareholders”.

Compass will be debt-free by 2013 and its new
figures point to quite a turnaround based on increased outsourcing by venues.

Cousins said he is pleased with the progress
and expects the public sector cutbacks to provide even more outsourcing
opportunities.

The group’s new UK
contracts, meanwhile, include deals
with the Ministry of Justice, Harlequins Rugby Club, Virgin Media and Kings
College Hospital NHS Trust.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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