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French Caterer Elior Suspends Guidance On Omicron Uncertainty

By Dave Simpson

French catering group Elior has suspended its outlook for the fiscal year despite a rebound in first-quarter revenue, saying that new restrictions to stem the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant made it hard to predict volumes.

Omicron Surge

Caterers, who had been enjoying a boost in business as people returned to schools and offices, were last month faced with new COVID-19 restrictions after the Omicron variant surged across Europe.

Deutsche Bank Analysts Note

"We would have preferred to see a range being provided, even if it were lower than earlier," analysts at Deutsche Bank said in a note.

Previous Targets

The group, which supplies businesses, schools, prisons, hospitals and care homes, had previously targeted organic sales growth of "at least 18%" and a margin on earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) of 2%-2.5% for the year to September of 2022.

All Markets Affected

Elior said that all of its markets had been affected by stricter health protocols implemented since early December, including a widespread return to remote work and school closures.

Chief Executive Statement

"Because of these disruptions, daily volumes are difficult to anticipate, which in turn impacts the quantities we produce and how we organise our teams," chief executive Philippe Guillemot said in a statement.

Rival

Last month, Elior's French rival Sodexo upheld its full-year outlook even as it warned the return to remote work could hit volumes.

Organic Rise

Elior said that revenue generated in France saw an organic rise of 9.5% to €489 million in the quarter, as growth in the business and industry segments offset some of the impact from new health protocols on its education business.

Easing Rules

France will ease work-from-home rules from early February as the COVID situation improves, Prime Minister Jean Castex said last month.

First-Quarter Revenue Figures

The group's first-quarter revenue came in at €1.12 billion, reflecting organic growth of 16.7% from a year earlier.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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