Compass, the world’s largest foodservice group, has reported a rise in full-year pre-tax profit, despite negative like-for-like volume growth in the UK & Ireland and Continental Europe during the second half of the year. The group, which supplies food services in over 50 countries, said that pre-tax profit for the year to 30 September stood at £958m, up 4.9% on the previous year, with revenue up 9.4% to £15.8bn. Underlying operating profit increased by 9% in the year, with the operating margin remaining flat. During the year Compass incurred around a £15m profit impact following the Japanese earthquake in March and a higher than normal level of restructuring costs of around £15m relating to acquisitions. As flagged up over the weekend, the group also launched a £500m share buyback scheme, which will take place over the next 12 months. It said that it had seen a steady increase in food inflation throughout the year. Richard Cousins, chief executive, said: “In the first half of the year, against very weak comparatives, we experienced a little volume growth. As we moved into the second half, we faced the combination of much tougher comparatives together with some further weakness in the macro economic backdrop in the UK and Continental Europe, as well as the impact of the earthquake in Japan. Overall, like for like volume in the second half of the year was marginally positive in North America and the Rest of the World and a little negative in the UK & Ireland and Continental Europe. “Whilst the macro economic backdrop is putting some pressure on headcounts and spend at our business & industry clients' sites, we are working hard to drive increased participation and spend through excellent consumer propositions, intelligent marketing, retail skills and attractive pricing. Although difficult to predict, looking at the macro data, we continue to expect like for like volumes to remain dull throughout 2012.” The company said that despite challenging economic conditions continuing to impact like-for-like volumes, it continued to see some “progressive improvement” in organic revenue trends in its UK & Ireland business, from a 3.3% decline last year to broadly flat this year. It said the improvement was driven predominantly by a higher rate of retention where it has invested in both the process and the team. There remains an ongoing focus on costs, both to mitigate the impact of reduced volumes and to integrate the recent acquisitions. It incurred re-organisation cost in the UK in the year of £55m (2010: £nil). Cousins said: “Including the impact of acquisitions, revenue has increased by almost 10% and we have delivered organic revenue growth of over 5%. Our relentless focus on efficiency has continued and, excluding the impact of Japan and restructuring costs, we have increased the underlying margin by 20 basis points. “Whilst we are not immune from economic reality, the fundamentals of the business remain strong and our flexible cost base will enable us to respond quickly to any changes in economic conditions. We continue to see many opportunities for further outsourcing in our core food market and support services is adding an exciting new dimension to our growth. “We are also placing greater emphasis on the fast growing and emerging markets, where we see real opportunity for further expansion. Increasingly we see our business in three geographic segments, North America, Europe & Japan and fast growing & emerging markets.” As part of an evolution of its management structure the company also announced the appointment of Andrew Martin, group finance director, as a group chief operating officer. Martin will have responsibility for the group's operations in Europe and Japan from 2 April 2012. From the same date Gary Green, currently the company’s group managing director for North America, will also assume the title of a group chief operating officer with responsibility for North America. On 27 February 2012, Dominic Blakemore will be appointed as group finance director designate, succeeding Martin. Blakemore is currently chief financial officer of Iglo Foods Group Limited.