Overall ranking: 25 (ranked 66 in 2010)
Contract catering ranking: 4 (ranked 6 in 2010)
Aidan Connolly - Snapshot
Aidan Connolly took on the chief executive's role at one of the world's largest caterers in 2009. Sodexo Group operates globally, providing catering and facilities management services in the healthcare, education, military, sport, and business and industry sectors, as well as at remote sites. Turnover in the UK and Ireland was €1.3b (£1.16b) in 2010, down -1.7% year-on-year. Operating profit was €57m (£51m), up +9.6% on the same period a year ago. Sodexo's group turnover in 2010 was €15.3b (£13.6b) up 3.7% year-on-year with net income up 5.3% to €409m (£364m). It employs 380,000 people at almost 34,000 locations.
Aidan Connolly - Career guide
Connolly joined Sodexo in the role of finance director for the UK and Ireland at the start of 2007.
He moved from holiday group MyTravel UK, where he was finance director and responsible for reconstructing the struggling business and returning it to profitability.
Previously, he was group finance director and then chief executive officer at home furnishings firm Walker Greenbank and held senior director's roles in a number of private companies in the UK, Europe and the USA.
He became UK chief executive in March 2009, replacing the short-lived and low-profile incumbent Yann Coleou.
Aidan Connolly - What we think
The newish broom is, in fact, an old hand - having been at the group as financial director before moving into his current role. Sodexo, like much of the industry is having a challenging time. Although employees are tending to use staff restaurants more and more in these tight times, redundancies and site closures have hurt everyone's business and industry bottom lines (Sodexo saw a 2.8% slide in revenue contribution in 2010). Connolly has also overseen a decision to withdraw from unprofitable education contracts, which saw revenue contribution fall 6.5% in 2010 as a result although the caterer is expanding its presence in the university market with deals at Medway, Sheffield and Lincoln universities. A massive £100m deal with Ascot racecourse announced in February also made for the perfect start to 2011. In April Connolly masterminded an expansion of the caterer's Irish business with the purchase of Zehnacker Ireland for an undisclosed sum.
Connolly, to his credit and despite his financial background and current developments, has consistently sought to put the focus back on food. Sodexo, like Compass, has pursued growth through the bundling of facilities services with many of its larger multi-site contracts. Solid stuff but one get's he impression an extra spark is now required to push Connolly higher up next year's top 100.