100: Aidan Connolly

01 July 2010 100: Aidan Connolly

Overall ranking: 66

Food service ranking: 6

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 throughout the globe, providing catering and facilities management services in the healthcare, education, military, sport, and business and industry sectors, as well as at remote sites. In April 2010 it revealed that interim operating profit in the UK had risen 32% to £20.7m in the first half of its financial year, despite revenue falling by 3.8% to £518m, and in terms of size it is second only to Compass in the UK and Ireland. Sodexo's group turnover in its most recent full financial year was €14.7b (£12.3b) - although this includes a contribution from the group's non-food public voucher business of about 5%, or €1b (£835m) - and operating profit was €746m (£623m). 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 new role. Sodexo, after enjoying a huge boost from the Rugby World Cup, where it did much of the catering in France and most of the lucrative hospitality ticketing in the UK, has had some difficult comparatives to match, and City analysts seem to have fallen out of love with it for the time being.

Connolly, to his credit and despite his financial background, has consistently sought to put the focus back on food, although Sodexo, like Compass, has pursued growth through the bundling of facilities services with many of its larger multi-site contracts. The focus on food is something that's bound to endear him to the caterers within the business and the wider sector.

Sodexo certainly has the resources to achieve any target it sets itself. It will be interesting to see if Connolly's concentration on food trickles down to the grassroots of the group that these days describes itself as a food service and facilities management company.

Aidan Connolly - Further information

Sodexo's new UK boss vows to revitalise food offer >>

Sodexo UK >>">" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Read more about the 100, the list of the most influential people, here >>

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