Sodexo expands its vision for the voucher business for the second time


June 30, 2010 French food and service group Sodexo ( EXHO.PA ) on Friday raised its full-year outlook for its voucher business for the second time this year, benefiting from companies’ efforts to bring workers back to the office.

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

“They’re asking us to work with them to help them get their employees back to their workplace with better and more diverse offerings,” CEO Sophie Bellon said on a call with reporters.

Bellon said companies can use on-site services such as company canteens and Sodexo vouchers to order lunch at a restaurant close to the workplace to convince employees of the benefits of working in-person.

Sodexo expects its vouchers and benefits division, recently rebranded as Plux, to post organic revenue growth of more than 20% in the year to the end of August, with an underlying operating margin of more than 32%.

The company’s shares were down about 2% earlier, with analysts suggesting an “in-line” guidance increase.

The group, which serves businesses, the armed forces, hospitals, schools and events, plans to roll out Plux by 2024 and hire about 1,000 people for its technology and data operations to enter the growing employee benefits market.

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

Sodexo also upgraded the group’s full-year outlook, seeing an underlying operating margin of 5.5%, compared with 5.5% previously.

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

($1 = 0.9201 EUR)

Reporting by Diana Mandia in Gdansk; Editing by Milla Nissi and Jane Merriman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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