Overall ranking: 8
Food service ranking: 1
Richard Cousins - Snapshot
Richard Cousins is the man in charge of the UK’s largest caterer and one of the largest food service firms in the world. Compass Group operates across a diverse range of sectors that include business and industry, fine dining, education, healthcare, vending, sports and leisure, along with military, remote and offshore sites.
It owns a raft of brand names, such as Eurest Services, Restaurant Associates, Roux Fine Dining, Chartwells (education) and Medirest (for hospitals and care homes).
Pre-tax profit for the 12 months to 30 September 2009 rose 36.6% to £773m, up from £566m the previous year, with revenue up 17% to £13.4b. Sales in the UK and Ireland, which account for 13.6% of Compass’s group revenues, fell 5% to £1.8b. In the UK and Ireland the company employees 66,000 people at 7,000 sites.
Richard Cousins - Career guide
Richard Cousins, a graduate of Sheffield and Lancaster universities, started his career in the group operational department of Cadbury Schweppes, where he was involved in market research, manufacturing planning and investment appraisal.
He joined BTR in 1984, initially in operational research, and became corporate planning manager for its subsidiary Newey & Eyre, a distributor of electrical products and installation materials.
In 1990 he took a strategic planning position with BPB, the world’s leading plasterboard and plaster manufacturer. Ensuing roles included group financial controller, managing director of packaging, president of its Canadian business and, finally, chief executive in 2000.
Cousins propelled BPB into the FTSE 100, almost quadrupling its market capitalisation from £1b-plus to almost £4b. He famously forced French company Saint-Gobain to increase its takeover bid from 675p to 775p a share, finally selling BPB for £3.9m in December 2005.
Cousins joined Compass as group chief executive in May 2006.
Richard Cousins - What we think
Turning a supertanker around takes time, and keeping it on course through stormy economic waters will demand the best of any captain.
Cousins has come in, sorted out Compass’s mess of brands and jettisoned some unprofitable contracts to build a business that has improved its profitability year-on-year and avoided the sort of UN-style scandals and Turkey Twizzler dressings-down from cheeky-chappie chefs that made things untenable for his predecessor Mike Bailey.
The company has City analysts salivating with its potential now the global economy is returning to growth, and it looks highly unlikely that Cousins will drop the ball now.
With the company back on the acquisition trail, following the "management and performance" mantra that Cousins has embedded in the business, and sitting on a healthy cash pile, this is one supertanker that is set to steam ahead with Cousins at the helm.
Richard Cousins - Further information