Compass, the catering company for offices, factories and venues has announced that it continues to win new business and that its profits are better than expected.

The British company is the world's largest catering company and said it is benefiting from a strategy of business simplification as well as increased interest in outsourcing.

Google, the search engine service, has selected the British cooks to feed its Australian division, as Compass gains new customers in Europe, the UK and Asia Pacific.

Compass has also won new deals with the Swedish head office of electric good manufacturer Electrolux and the Jockey Club in Britain. All 14 Jockey Club owned race courses will be catered for by Compass under the terms of the new contract. Contracts with Shell, the National Grid and Wal-mart in Brazil have also been extended. The Bank of England, the O2 Arena and Chelsea football club remain key clients.

Compass said sales in the first half were up by 2.5 per cent, but that like-for-like sales in its Business & Industry and Sports & Leisure divisions were down, mostly because clients had extended holidays during the Christmas and New Year periods as a result of the economic slowdown. Markets in Germany and Eastern Europe in particular were affected. Compass reported pre-tax profits of £289 million.

"Encouragingly, the level of new business wins in all sectors has remained strong," Compass said, adding, "first half profitability running well ahead of expectation."

Compass said the UK division is performing well "in a difficult environment" especially for its healthcare, education and defence divisions.

IT systems at Compass have been under-going a consolidation programme as part of an overall plan to simplify the business. Led by Bob Lonsdale, the UK IT director, the company has consolidated its back office functions to reduce costs and improve efficiencies for the catering staff serving clients.

Compass said that in the current economic climate a lot of organisations were realising the value of outsourcing their catering operations.