Philip Jansen

12 May 2005
Philip Jansen

Overall ranking: 18

Contract caterers ranking: 3


Philip Jansen is the chief executive of Sodexho UK and Ireland, the second largest contract caterer in the UK. It was known as Gardner Merchant from 1967 but changed its name in 2000 following its 1995 acquisition by Sodexho Alliance of France.

The group's food and management services encompass business and industry, education, healthcare, remote sites, old people's homes, defence, and prisons.

The UK and Ireland is Sodexho's third largest market after Continental Europe and North America and accounts for 14% of its business. The UK division, which employs around 50,000 staff across nearly 3,500 clients, increased operating profit by 35% to £19.7m in the year to 31 August 2004, although turnover dipped from £1.01b to £931m.

Career guide

Jansen, who is 38 this year, started his career in commercial roles at consumer products giant Procter & Gamble.

He became a senior executive at Dunlop Slazenger before joining Telewest, the UK's second largest cable TV, broadband and telecoms group, as managing director of its consumer division.

In September 2002, he joined MyTravel as European chief executive and was promoted to group chief operating officer a month later. He became chief executive of Sodexho UK and Ireland on 1 October, 2004.

What we think

Jansen has been brought in as a troubleshooter to restore profitability to the UK division, which has been dogged by financial and leadership problems since 2002.

He was hired for his extensive sales and marketing skills and his proven ability to execute turnaround strategies. This was part of his remit at MyTravel, which he stabilised and reshaped, and at Telewest, where he boosted revenues over three years by 30% to £950m and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by 70% to £390m.

In November 2002, serious errors of management and accounting anomalies in the UK were blamed for a 10% slump in group operating profits. The French group shuttled in Mark Shipman from the USA to head up a recovery plan in the UK and he was replaced in January 2004 by Francois-Xavier Bellon, who was forced by ill health to retire months later in May.

The key problems lay with forward sales for the grounds maintenance division, underperforming contracts and poor client retention in business and industry (which accounted for 90% of the decline in UK sales).

The plan is to make contracts more profitable by offering more services at existing sites and, by mid-2003, multi-service sites accounted for 20% of existing and 50% of new business. By this time, Sodexho had also axed its 20 most unprofitable contracts (worth £13m) in business and industry.

It exited the hotel management business, terminated its six-year restaurant partnership with Gary Rhodes, and invested £5m in training and motivating site managers (where staff turnover had reached 30% in 2001). Sodexho also started dealing direct with growers and abattoirs and elected to shun school catering contracts worth less than 55p a meal.

The parent company posted better than expected results in the year to 31 August 2004 thanks to an improved performance in the UK, where profit margins rose to 1% from 0.8%. Sodexho Alliance believes it wll take three years to return the UK to the 4.5% margins growth enjoyed by the rest of the group.

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