A strong 2017 and growth of four per cent has seen catering company Compass improve operating margin by 20 points, returning £1.6 billion to shareholders, according to the company’s full-year results.
Revenue in Europe grew by 1.6 per cent, although it declined 2.5 per cent through the rest of the world.
Richard Cousins, group chief executive, said: “Compass had another strong year. North America continues to deliver excellent growth; we are continuing to make progress in Europe and in Rest of World, with trends in our commodity-related business improving.
“We continue to drive operating efficiencies around the business which, combined with the end of the restructuring in our Offshore and Remote business, resulted in margin improvement of 20bps in the period.
“Given our excellent cash generation and the strength of the business, this year we returned £1.6 billion to shareholders via ordinary and special dividends and share buybacks. This reflects our commitment to return surplus cash to shareholders whilst maintaining an efficient balance sheet. Our expectations for FY2018 are positive, with growth and margin improvement weighted to the second half.
“The pipeline of new contracts is encouraging and our focus on organic growth, efficiencies and cash gives us confidence in achieving another year of progress. In the longer term, we remain excited about the significant structural growth opportunities globally and the potential for further revenue growth, margin improvement, as well as continued returns to shareholders.”