Mike Bailey

12 May 2005
Mike Bailey

Overall ranking: 8

Contract caterers ranking: 2


Mike Bailey is the group chief executive of the Compass Group and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the world's largest contract caterer. The group, which employs in excess of 400,000 staff in more than 90 countries, achieved annual sales of nearly £12b and pre-tax profits of £645m in 2004.

Career guide

Bailey left school at 16 to become a commis chef for caterer Peter Merchant. In 1964 he joined Gardner Merchant (now Sodexho), rising from food service manager to managing director of its UK contract feeding business. He became president of Gardner Merchant's US subsidiary in 1985.

In 1991, Bailey moved in to the role of executive president for Nutrition Management Food Services Company in the USA.

He joined Compass in 1993 as group development director. He was a key member of the Compass team that bought Canteen Corporation from Flagstar in the USA and, between 1994 and 1999, Bailey served as chief executive of Compass's North American division.

He became group chief executive of Compass in July 1999.

What we think

A veteran of the contract catering sector, Bailey has worked in the USA for much of the past 20 years.

He proved his mettle at Gardner Merchant, where he expanded its US turnover from $40m to $225m over six years through a mix of organic growth and acquisitions.

Before heading up Compass's North American division, Bailey was responsible for setting up New Famous Foods, the caterer's branded food service division that now includes such names as Upper Crust, Caffe Ritazza and Harry Ramsden's.

As chief executive of Compass in North America, Bailey almost trebled the division's sales and profits. By 2004, this business was contributing £3.5b in sales and £190m in operating profit to the group accounts.

Since 1999 he has been in charge of the day-to-day operation of Compass, which toppled Sodexho from the UK top slot when it absorbed Granada's food service business in 2000.

Bailey became one of the UK's highest-paid directors in 2003 when his total remuneration came to £2.62m, more than double the £1.26m given to chairman Francis Mackay who had cut down his working hours.

However, both men turned down their bonuses in 2004 after failing to hit all their targets, a move that slashed Bailey's total package to £1.04m and Mackay's to £546,000.

A decline in operating profits in 2004 brought Compass's share price down to record low of 213p and Bailey's position came under pressure following a profits warning this April. Nevertheless, in the peer-reviewed Britain's Most Admired Companies 2004 rankings, Compass was listed 20th in the pan-industry top 220 and was second only to Greene King among hospitality firms.

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