Catering giant Compass has reported operating profits of £1 billion for the first time as it overcame weaker revenues in the UK and Ireland.
The Surrey-based firm, which provides catering at famous venues including Chelsea Football Club and the Wimbledon tennis championships, said the year to September 30 saw strong growth in the United States and emerging markets.
Compass said there were signs of improvement in the UK and Ireland but revenues in the region still fell 2.6% to £1.78 billion, with profits flat at £114 million.
It said UK economic conditions continued to impact volumes in the sport and leisure and business and industry sectors, although it has secured new business such as the contract to cater for 10,000 Virgin Media staff in 17 locations.
Compass also reported good growth in the UK healthcare sector, while the turnaround of its school catering arm has continued after winning a new contract with Rugby School and the retention of two other notable deals.
The company’s biggest growth engine is North America, where it improved revenues by 9.7% to £6.37 billion and profits rose 11% to £491 million.
New contract wins included The Gates Foundation’s new campus site and Amazon.com’s headquarters, both located in Seattle, and Sun Microsystems, which is part of the company’s larger Oracle contract.
Across the group, revenues rose by 7.6% to £14.5 billion, with 3.2 percentage points of the improvement coming from organic growth. Operating profits lifted 13% to a new record of £1 billion.
Around 17% of its business is in fast-growing and emerging economies and Compass said these markets offered the opportunity of double-digit revenues growth.
It pointed out that the rate of outsourcing in foodservice remained under 50% in an industry worth around £200 billion.