Magazine article Management Today

Brainfood: Behind the Spin - Compass Group

Magazine article Management Today

Brainfood: Behind the Spin - Compass Group

Article excerpt

THE DILEMMA

The world's biggest contract caterer has had a Turkey Twizzler of a year, but Jamie Oliver's criticism of Compass' low-grade school meals is just the tip of the iceberg. Of far greater concern are the investigations by the US authorities into its Eurest Support Services (ESS) arm, which, it is alleged, has been involved in improper bidding practices in its catering contracts with the UN. The UK's Serious Fraud Office is conducting its own preliminary examination. Compass has also been criticised for its aggressive treatment of UK suppliers: in November, it was forced to deny claims from three of them that it had bugged negotiations to gauge how low it could push prices. The Times also accused the firm of charging a janitorial supplier a pounds 1 million fee for a three-year contract.

THE SPIN

Compass has started its own internal investigation into ESS's relationship with UN procurement officials, and has already fired Compass UK chief executive (and former CEO of ESS) Peter Harris. Of janitorial supplier Robert Scott & Sons, Compass said: 'The supplier in question has just signed a new contract and if it wasn't happy, it wouldn't have signed it.' Compass also points out that '95% of the UK suppliers have been supplying Compass for over four years'. …

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