Sunday 5 January 2020 4:25 pm

Compass chairman Paul Walsh set to step down this year

Paul Walsh, the chairman of FTSE 100 catering company Compass, is due to step down within the next twelve months.

The firm, which is the world’s largest catering company, will announce the decision on Monday as it prepares to begin the search for Walsh’s successor.

Read more: Compass group shares sink as business catering unit is undercooked

Sky News reported that the company will consider both internal and external candidates as it looks to replace Walsh, who has chaired the company since 2014.

With a market value of over £30bn, Compass is one of the UK’s biggest businesses, providing its services to events such as Wimbledon and Cheltenham.

Walsh was widely expected to step down in 2023, and the reasons for bringing the decision forward are as yet unclear.

His stint at the company has been considered widely successful, with Compass announcing that it expects sales growth of five per cent in 2020.

Walsh also oversaw considerable challenges such as the death of company chief executive Richard Cousins, who lost his life in an aeroplane crash in Australia in 2018.

Under Cousins’ successor Dominic Blakemore shares have risen 16 per cent over the last year.

Walsh, who is considered one of the UK’s leading businessmen, is understood to want to spend more time to his roles in private companies.

Since stepping down as the chief executive of drinks producer Diageo in 2013, Walsh has built a portfolio career with board positions at Centrica, Unilever, Fedex, and McDonald’s.

He is also the chairman of Chime Communications, a marketing services group.

Read more: Compass buys Nordic food group in €427m deal

In recent years there has been a pushback against “over-boarding”, which has led to shareholders voting against the re-election of board members with multiple directorships.

Three years ago Walsh did not stand for re-election to HSBC Holding’s board as investors had been told not to vote for him due to his other commitments.