Caterer Compass says profits plunge on pandemic

Britain’s Compass, the world’s biggest caterer, said Tuesday that annual net profit spiralled lower after the coronavirus pandemic temporarily shut half its operations.

Profit after tax slumped to £133 million ($177 million, 150 million euros) in the 12 months to September, compared with £1.1 billion a year earlier, Compass said in a statement.

The London-listed firm, whose main rival is Sodexo of France, said revenues tumbled by almost a fifth to £19.9 billion.

The food services sector has been ravaged this year by Covid-19 and global lockdowns that shut schools and company canteens around the world.

“We began the year on track to deliver our strongest performance ever,” Compass chief executive Dominic Blakemore said.

He noted however that containment measures to stop the virus then closed half the business in just a fortnight. 

“Through the summer, our performance began to improve slowly as we helped clients in education and business and industry return to schools and offices safely,” Blakemore said.

“Importantly, in the (company’s) fourth quarter we returned the business to profitability.”