Catering and facilities management company Sodexo has imposed a recruitment freeze on support staff as part of a plan to save €50m (£40.5m) annually.
Michel Landel, chief executive of Sodexo, revealed the move today at the company's full-year results presentation.
"The banking and financial crises have led to a severe economic downturn, which is likely to continue during 2009 and 2010 in the majority of countries in which Sodexo operates," he said.
"In this uncertain climate, the group executive committee has taken stringent measures to limit growth in overheads and to freeze hiring of staff who do not work on operating sites."
In the UK and Ireland Sodexo's turnover was 2% up at €1.5b (£1.2b) with organic growth of 12.9%, boosted by the hospitality contract for the Rugby World Cup, which represented added revenue of €140m (£113m). Operating profit jumped 8.3% to €78m (£63m).
Business and industry turnover remained stable and prison and army turnover recorded growth as did Sodexo UK & Ireland's healthcare business.
Sodexo achieved its first organic growth (3.3%) in education in four years and high profile contracts included AstraZeneca, an extension to GlaxoSmithKline and Royal Air Force Lyneham.
Landel cited an excellent performance for the group in 2008, which saw turnover increase 8.4% to €13.6b (£11b), at constant exchange rates. Operating profit was up 15.3% at €690m (£559m) at constant exchange rates.
By Chris Druce
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