Compass sees earnings lift on US success

Kasmira Jefford
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COMPASS Group, the world’s biggest caterer, has seen its full-year profits rise after fattening up its US business with new contract wins, which helped offset tough conditions in Europe and Japan.

The caterer, which provides meals for everyone from schoolchildren to members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team, posted a five per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £958m in the year to 30 September, up from £913m the previous year.

The group said North America, which accounts for nearly £7bn of its £15.8bn total revenue, remained its biggest growth engine with operating profit up 9.6 per cent.

Compass said it took a £15m hit in the year from the impact of the Japanese earthquake in March and warned that conditions in parts of Europe remained challenging.

But it was positive on the outlook and its possibilities for expansion.

“The group continues to make excellent progress, despite the headwinds of food cost inflation, an uncertain economic backdrop in parts of the world and the impact of events in Japan,” chairman Roy Gardner said.

The group named Dominic Blakemore as finance director. His predecessor, Andy Martin will become chief operating officer for Europe and Japan.

Compass also confirmed a £500m share buyback and increased its full-year dividend by 10 per cent to 19.3p.

Shares fell 2.9 per cent to 544p.