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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Richard Cousins, Compass Group

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Richard Cousins, Compass Group

Overall ranking: 6 (ranked 8 in 2010)

Contract catering ranking: 1 (ranked 1 in 2010)

Richard Cousins is the man in charge of the UK's largest caterer and one of the largest food service firms in the world. Compass Group operates across a diverse range of sectors that include business and industry, fine dining, education, healthcare, vending, sports and leisure, along with military, remote and offshore sites.

It owns a raft of brand names, such as Eurest Services, Restaurant Associates, Roux Fine Dining, Chartwells (education) and Medirest (for hospitals and care homes).

Compass Group UK and Ireland has turnover of £1.8b with 50,000 employees working at 7,000 client sites. The group saw turnover climb 7.6% to £14.5b in 2010.

Richard Cousins - Career guide

Richard Cousins, a graduate of Sheffield and Lancaster universities, started his career in the group operational department of Cadbury Schweppes, where he was involved in market research, manufacturing, planning and investment appraisal.

He joined BTR in 1984, initially in operational research, and became corporate planning manager for its subsidiary Newey & Eyre, a distributor of electrical products and installation materials.

In 1990 he took a strategic planning position with BPB, the world's leading plasterboard and plaster manufacturer. Subsequent roles included group financial controller, managing director of packaging, president of its Canadian business and, finally, chief executive in 2000.

Cousins propelled BPB into the FTSE 100, almost quadrupling its market capitalisation from £1b-plus to almost £4b. He famously forced French company Saint-Gobain to increase its takeover bid from 675p to 775p a share, finally selling BPB for £3.9m in December 2005.

Cousins joined Compass as group chief executive in May 2006.

Richard Cousins - What we think

A year on from his previous Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 (formerly the Caterersearch.com 100) appearance and it's continued to go rather well for the man that turned the Compass super tanker around, pointed it in the right direction and through a series of top-class appointments - Ian Sarson as chief executive - has kept it on course. Indeed, with the operation ship-shape and, relatively speaking, cash rich, Cousins has been on a buying spree. However, unlike those of his predecessor Mike Bailey, it's seen international activity devoted in the main to infill and strengthening the group in countries where additional scale has proved attractive. This has included Elior's food services operation in the Netherlands and Sweden's BGP Resurs. Compass has also been acquisitive in Germany, Spain and Japan. In fact, the only real blot on his copybook being a stagnant performance in the UK in the six months to 31 March 2011. Cousins's ambition remains undimmed stating in an interview with Caterer early this year that with only 45% to 50% of catering outsourced worldwide there's plenty left to play for. Cousins no doubt will be leading the charge.

Richard Cousin's ranking in the 2010 Caterersearch.com 100 >>

UK remains 'challenging' for Compass as organic revenue growth stays flat >>

Compass's Eurest division wins £12.5m deal with Defra >>

Richard Cousins on how he and his team reversed Compass's ailing fortunes >>

Compass Group website >>

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