Compass, the world's largest caterer, has spent the past year gathering new contracts and making small acquisitions in a market that it happily says has prospects for growth. The City will therefore want to know how the company intends to expand.
In the United States the biggest growth areas for Compass have been health care and education. The company has been snapping up concessions in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and colleges.
In Britain it has also been winning contracts for hospital and school canteens, but its most successful growth area has been in off-the-street establishments, particularly concessions at airports and railway stations, which have quickly become centres for shopping and leisure as well as providing public transport.
The company's record for the past year in both countries has been dotted with takeovers of smaller operations, and more contracts worldwide have been won.
The City will no doubt be told that Compass will continue its policy of organic growth and acquisition into the new millennium, but it will be especially interested in how the company aims to improve margins in a low-margin sector.
The signs of confidence are already there. In 1997-98 turnover was £4.21bn and pre-tax profit £159m. The analysts are forecasting increased profits at £187.7m.
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