Compass raises guidance as workers and schoolchildren return

Compass, the world’s largest caterer, has raised its revenue guidance and outlined a £500mn share buyback programme as the return of office workers and reopening of schools pushed its business back to pre-Covid levels.

The FTSE 100 company said on Wednesday that it expected revenue growth to be around 30 per cent this year, from an earlier range of 20 to 25 per cent, thanks to the reopening of offices and schools and the return of large-scale sports events as pandemic restrictions eased.

It also said that it had achieved its highest ever number of new contracts with first-time clients as businesses and institutions turned to large-scale outsourcing companies with better buying power to counter sharp price rises, particularly for labour and food.

The total value of the new contracts during the six months to March 31 was £2.5bn, with overall revenues at £11.5bn, up 36.3 per cent compared with the same period in 2021 and 6 per cent below the equivalent figure in 2019.

Compass said that its revenue run-rate was now above pre-Covid levels. Pre-tax profits were £632mn, up 375 per cent on last year.

Dominic Blakemore, the group’s chief executive, said that Compass had “seen a notable improvement” in school and office trading as workers and students returned.

He added that the company was “mindful of global inflationary pressures” but saw it as an opportunity to win business as organisations looked to outsource more services.

Compass shares have declined more than 7 per cent this month.