The food and service management sector saw turnover increase in 2009 to £4.2b, according to the annual survey of the British Hospitality Association's Food and Service Management Forum.
The forum chair Phil Hooper, who announced the results of the BHA's 21st survey at Hotelympia yesterday, said the last 12 months had been tough for companies in the sector but, despite the recession, turnover had moved ahead by 0.7%. He added: "Clearly food and service management companies are doing something right."
Bob Cotton, chief executive of the BHA, said that the results had to be seen against a background in which GDP had fallen by over 6%, unemployment had risen by over half a million and food inflation had soared. Cotton added that FSM companies had survived in remarkably good shape but he warned that 2010 and 2011 would present an equally tough challenge.
Hooper said that in response to the economic downturn contractors had cut costs. In particular employment, which represented 47% of turnover and by far the biggest single item of expenditure, had declined by 6%.
In addition, he said contractors had continued to withdraw from contracts that had been only marginally profitable and many companies have also expanded into providing full facilities management services both for existing and for new clients.
But he described business and industry as the most vulnerable sector because it had been affected by factory and office closures and by redundancies in client companies. The number of meals served in fell by 18% to 612 million in 2009 from 747 million in 2008. However, public sector catering remained largely unaffected and healthcare, in particular, did well.
By Janie Stamford
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