Sodexho Alliance chief executive and chairman Pierre Bellon has warned it will take another three years for the company to restore its margins in its UK operations.
The subsidiary is still recovering from "serious errors of management" uncovered in 2002, since when it has been axeing unprofitable contracts.
Initial predictions at the time were that it would take between two to three years to restore the margins.
His comments, to French newspaper Les Echos, were made as the contractor announced that from September next year it intends to split the two top jobs, once Bellon steps down from the day-to-day running of the business.
Chief operating officer Michel Landel will become chief executive and Bellon will stay on as chairman.
Jean-Michel Dhenain, the company's other chief operating officer but overlooked for the top job, has said he will retire at the end of 2005, although he will continue to work for Sodexho as an advisor.
Bellon said: "I am very happy with the board's decision, which represents the culmination of a two-year process."
by Nic Paton
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