Compass Group has seen turnover in the UK & Ireland fall in the first six months of the year despite a series of high profile contract wins.
Turnover in the six months to 31 March in the UK and Ireland, which contributed 13.8% of group turnover compared to 17.3% last year, was £939m. This was 2.8% lower than 2008's £965m.
However cost savings meant total operating profit for the region was £54m, up slightly on 2008's £53m.
Compass has been hit by lower levels of corporate catering and hospitality spend, as well as reduced headcounts within its core business and industry sector. Site closures and extended Christmas and New Year closures, as well as bad weather in the UK in February, also took their toll.
However, the caterer said it was making progress in the education sector, where it recently rebranded Scolarest as Chartwells, with profitability improving as a result of its efforts to refocus its school dinners business during the last few years. Healthcare saw steady like-for-like growth as well.
Richard Cousins, chief executive of Compass Group, said: "Against the backdrop of deteriorating economic conditions, Compass has had a positive first half.
"We are encouraged by our continued ability to win high quality new business at levels consistent with last year. The acceleration in the rate of cost efficiencies should enable us to deliver further progress in the second half of the year."
Group turnover was £6.9b, representing 2.6% organic growth and 3.6% growth at constant currencies and helped by a strong performance in Compass's North America and the Rest of the World segments.
Group operating profit increased 14% at constant currency rates to £455m, thanks in part to £50m-plus of cost savings and operating efficiencies achieved during the period.
Recent High profile wins in the UK and Ireland include the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, where the company will be running a public restaurant with Michel Roux Junior; National Grid; Jockey Club Racecourses; Welsh Assembly Government and Ireland's new Lansdowne Road stadium.
By Chris Druce
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