Look in almost any direction and you'll likely see a foodservice operation run by this company. Compass Group is the world's largest contract foodservices provider, with operations in more than 50 countries. It provides hospitality and foodservice for a variety of businesses and such public-sector clients as cultural institutions, hospitals, and schools. It also offers vending, catering, concessions, and security services for a number of events and sports venues. Its foodservice brands include Chartwells, Crothall, and Levy Restaurants. In addition, Compass is a franchisee of such well-known chains as Burger King and Starbucks.
Compass became the leader in its industry through aggressive expansion and numerous acquisitions over the years. The company has been especially focused on boosting its presence internationally.
To this end, in 2011 Compass acquired the remaining 50% of SOFRA, its joint venture in Turkey, and entered a deal to buy meal-delivery firm Obasan, which serves business in Turkey, Bursa, and Istanbul. That same year Compass also acquired a pair of companies in India that provide facilities management and foodservice to businesses in Delhi. The twin purchases followed the acquisition of German education and health care foodservices provider Menke Menue for about €5 million (nearly $7 million) in cash, and it snapped up a 90% stake in Japanese catering firm Chiyoda Food from Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (which retained the remaining shares). In late 2011 Compass acquired UK-based Cygnet Foods, a food and support services company, for an undisclosed price.
In 2010 the company purchased Australia-based foodservices firm Life's A Party Group for £14 million ($22 million) and Denmark's IDA Service for £17 million ($27 million) from OKF Holding A/S and its management. Also that year Compass bought family-owned Tirumala Hospitality Services, a leading caterer for corporate and industrial businesses in western India, and France's Caterine Restauration, a foodservices firm for the country's education and health care sectors.
The company continues to build on its operations back at home, as well. Responding to the requests of its clients, Compass extended its reach to the safety business in mid-2010 when it acquired VSG Group, a security services firm, from Lloyds Development Capital for $81 million. VSG supplies manned guarding, electronic surveillance, and support services to companies in the UK. VSG's security operations are complementary to Compass' cleaning and catering businesses, as customers of these services often ask for security support.
While the global recession and credit crisis have caused hardships in many industries, the contract foodservices segment has continued to grow as companies look for new ways to outsource and cut costs. As such, Compass Group is focused on winning new services contracts and expanding its business relationships with existing customers. In 2009 and 2010 the company won new business from Visa, Google, Microsoft, Nestlé, and Electrolux.
Compass Group has also been mindful of costs itself, pulling out of some unprofitable global markets, streamlining operations, and strengthening financial controls throughout its expansive network of worldwide subsidiaries. The moves have helped the company to widen its margins. – less