Compass boss Richard Cousins will continue to streamline the company's UK arm in a bid to catch up with the group's worldwide performance.
The group chief executive said the contact caterer's UK operation, which is undergoing a brand review, will become "a very good business" in the mid-term.
Speaking to Caterer after last week's interim results, Cousins said the company's sluggish UK performance was due to its historical policy of aggressive acquisition. "The UK business is complicated due to the number of acquisitions made in the past, which has created complex reporting, administration and IT structures," he said.
"We essentially plan a ‘less of everything' approach in the UK to make it more competitive. I believe the business fundamentals in the UK remain extremely attractive."
UK turnover fell 1% year-on-year in the six months ended 31 March, to £957m (2006: £962m), while operating profit held steady at £53m, the same as the year before.
At 5.5%, operating margin, which is based on turnover and operating profit, was higher than the rest of the world (3.4%) but lower than Continental Europe and North America (6.7% and 6.1% respectively).
Work to refocus the catering and service giant paid dividends elsewhere, with group operating profit up 14% to £267m (2006: £234m), free cash flow up from £98m to £136m and turnover slightly down at £5.19b (2006: £5.28b), but organic growth was 5% higher than the same time in 2006.
Compass recently announced the sale of its Selecta vending business for £772m, following the disposals of SSP and Moto.
- Matthew Thompson has been named as the new managing director for Compass's sport, leisure and hospitality division. Thompson, who will join the company in June, will replace Nigel Dunlop, who is retiring in December. Thompson was previously commercial director at energy giant Centrica.
By Chris Druce