Sodexo raises outlook for voucher business a second time By Reuters

Sodexo raises outlook for voucher business a second time By Reuters
Sodexo raises outlook for voucher business a second time By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of French food services and facilities management group Sodexo is seen at the company headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris, France, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

(Reuters) – French catering and food services group Sodexo (EPA:) on Friday raised the full-year outlook of its voucher business for the second time this year as it benefits from companies’ attempts to get employees back to the office.

Employers have also turned to companies like Sodexo to offer vouchers to staff to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

“They beg us to work with them to help them bring employees back to the workplace with better, more diversified offerings,” CEO Sophie Bellon said in a call with reporters.

Bellon said companies are using on-site services such as company canteens, and the possibility of ordering lunch at a restaurant close to the workplace with Sodexo vouchers, to convince their staff of the advantages of working in person.

Sodexo expects its voucher and benefits division, recently rebranded as Pluxee, to reach organic revenue growth of more than 20% in the year to the end of August, with an underlying operating profit margin exceeding 32%.

The company’s shares fell around 2% in early trading, with analysts pointing to an “in-line” guidance raise.

The group, which serves businesses, armed forces, hospitals, schools and events, plans to spin off Pluxee in 2024 and hire about 1,000 people for its technology and data operations to tap into the growing employee benefits market.

Sodexo last raised its forecast for the voucher business in April, targeting organic growth close to 20% and an operating margin near 32%.

Sodexo also tweaked the group’s full-year outlook, seeing an underlying operating margin of 5.5%, versus “close to” 5.5% previously.

Total group revenue was 6.03 billion euros ($6.55 billion) in the third quarter, slightly ahead of the 6.02 billion euros expected by analysts polled by the company.

($1 = 0.9201 euros)

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