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Jamie Oliver forces Sodexho to rethink plans for education

30 June 2006

Sodexho UK's boss says the company is halfway through a major review of its education strategy.

Speaking at the Arena lunch at Haberdashers' Hall in London last Wednesday (21 June), Sodexho UK chief executive Philip Jansen said the "enormous pressures" on caterers since Jamie Oliver's TV series required a new business strategy.

But Jansen, who was giving his first interview since taking over the job nearly two years ago, stopped short of announcing any conclusions before the Government's new nutritional regulations kick in this September.

"There are factors we are still unsure about because the market needs to develop further," he said.

The review was announced in April by group chief executive Michel Landel, who said Sodexho had to be "very selective in the UK education market" owing to falling meal uptake and tight profit margins.

Despite positive growth in other markets, Sodexho saw a 6.5% fall in revenue in the UK education sector in the first half of 2006.

Heading the review is Michelle Hanson, managing director of the group's education division, who denied Sodexho was planning to pull out of a market that some have called untenable for private caterers.

"We are looking at how we can best allocate our resources and where we can have good partnerships with clients," Hanson said. "Contracts vary greatly from authority to authority but they need to be financially viable and put a priority on healthy, tasty food."

She said that the findings would be written into the company's business plan.

To see highlights of the Philip Jansen interview, go to CatererTV >>

By Tom Bill

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