COMPASS has come a long way since Turkey-Twizzler-gate. It is now the world’s largest food business, with operations in 50 countries and annual revenues of £13bn. According to yesterday’s numbers, things are going from strength to strength.
Momentum is clearly on the firm’s side. Organic sales grew 0.4 per cent in the first half, and five per cent in the second. Revenues in the North American region, Compass’ biggest, grew by 5.5 per cent over the full-year, against 2.8 per cent in the first six months. Sales in Europe were flat, with trading particularly tough in the UK, but Brazil and Australia helped the rest of the world grow revenues by six per cent.
The firm is also dripping in cash, with free cash flow of £650m and net debt of around £700m. It will likely move to a net cash position soon, leaving it free to return cash to shareholders or buy bolt-on targets.
The global food services market, worth £200bn a year, is ripe for consolidation. Just 40 per cent is currently outsourced, and Compass has just seven per cent of the fragmented market, but at this rate, it will soon have much more.