Compass Group finished the financial year at the end of September 2009 strongly with the catering giant showing improved margins after a period of cost cutting. With a diverse base of customers in schools, hospitals, offices, leisure centres and customers from the Bank of England to Chelsea FC, Compass is seen as a solid company unlikely to be hit too hard by the buffeting of the macro economy. Indeed, the tendency to outsourcing in tough times, especially in the public sector, might even help it in some ways, even as corporate hospitality takes a knock.

As well as playing its part in Compass's recent attempts to standardise on back-office infrastructure, IT was central to customer-facing activities for Compass in 2009 with the introduction of support for contactless payment cards.

"Our on-site cafeterias typically handle large groups of people at lunchtime, and our operators need the best use of technology to maximise speed of service to our customers to enhance their dining experience," said Rob Watkins, CIO, Compass Group North America in a statement. "By expanding payment options we are able to offer not only convenience, but also peace of mind from using a secure system."