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Caterer Compass hands back £25m furlough cash

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The world’s biggest catering group has decided to pay back the £25 million it claimed in furlough from the UK Government in recent months.

Compass Group said it has stopped participating in the job retention programme which was launched last year to help support the economy.

It will return to the Treasury around £25 million that its employees were paid under the scheme since October, covering up to 80% of their salaries.

Staff who are still on furlough will now have their pay covered by Compass.

However, the company will not return the furlough cash its staff received before October, as it was struggling during that period and was forced to raise money from shareholders.

Compass took the decision to pay back the money despite times still being tough.

Over the last six-month period, which ran from October to March, pre-tax profit dropped 82% to £133 million, on revenue of £8.4 billion, down almost a third.

The company said it expects revenue to gradually improve in the third quarter of the year, which ends in late June.

Chief executive Dominic Blakemore said: “With the gathering pace of vaccination rollouts across our major markets, we are working closely with our clients to prepare to reopen their sites safely, although the picture across the world remains mixed.

“Over the last six months, the ‘flight to trust’ continued as clients sought quality partners with health and safety expertise, supply chain resilience, and financial stability.

“As a result, new business wins have increased due to the acceleration of first-time outsourcing, which now accounts for about half of our growth.”

Compass’s sports and leisure unit was the worst hit by the pandemic, seeing organic revenue plunge more than 72%.

Only its healthcare and senior living unit and defences, offshore and remote unit grew organic revenue during the period – up 1.9% and 0.7% respectively.

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