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(Reuters) – Contract caterer Compass Group on Monday forecast its profit growth to be more than 20% in 2023 and margins to be above 6.5%, after reporting a surge in financial year 2022 profit buoyed by new business wins and reopening of economies.

The world’s largest catering group more than doubled its dividend to 31.5 pence for the year ended Sept. 30 and announced a new share buyback of 250 million pounds ($295.25 million) after revenue and profit beat market expectations.

Like other businesses, Compass has been grappling with higher costs of food and labour, and has been tackling soaring inflation by changing ingredients such switching from sunflower oil to rapeseed oil in the UK and reducing the number of options its menu offers, among other things, to cut costs.

A challenging economic environment and fears of a recession has also meant that more companies are outsourcing their canteen needs to cut costs, helping Compass gain more new businesses and retain clients.

Compass, which serves office workers, university students, patients and seniors in old age homes across 40 countries, said adjusted operating profit soared nearly 88% to 1.59 billion pounds in the year ended Sept. 30.

That beat the company-compiled analysts’ estimate of 1.54 billion pounds.

Adjusted operating margin was at 6.2%, a tad higher than the company-compiled consensus of 6.1%.

Constant-currency underlying operating profit growth is expected to be above 20% for financial year 2023, Compass said.

Underlying revenue for the year rose about 38% to 25.8 billion pounds, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, and analysts average forecast of 25.1 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.8467 pounds)


(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Rashmi Aich)


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