Compass Group has confirmed plans to sell SSP, its UK and Continental European travel concessions operations. The group said it would retain a small part of the Concessions business, mainly in Japan, Portugal and the US where the operations were closely integrated with the rest of the business. Compass said: "Whilst the travel concessions market offers considerable further growth opportunities, the sale of SSP will allow management to focus solely on the group's core contract catering operations and the growth of its support services business." The group expects to launch a formal sale process for SSP before the end of the calendar year and is being advised by Citigroup. Andrew Lynch, chief executive of SSP, will step down from the Compass board as of today, after nine years, to focus fully on the management of the SSP business. The news came as the company said that trading was strong in North America and the Rest of the World regions, particularly Australasia and Japan. In Continental Europe trading was in line with expectations. UK trading was said to be "subdued" with steps being taking to improve performance. Full year operating profit (before goodwill and exceptional items) is expected to be approximately £710m. Overall, like-for-like turnover growth in the UK is expected to be around 5% with full-year operating profit of approximately £200m(excluding fuel). The company also announced that Michael J Bailey would step down as chief executive. He will remain in his role at least until Sir Roy Gardner takes on the role of the new chairman, some time during 2006. Bailey said: "In my time at Compass, we have built a truly international business with scale and market leadership. "Whilst in the short term the company has been through a challenging period, particularly in the UK, I am satisfied that we have taken the necessary action and that a platform has been established from where the company can move forward again. "I remain fully committed to implementing our plan through this period of turnaround."