FM’s annual profiles of the 50 largest U.S. foodservice management companies is limited to those that operate significant manual foodservice operations (e.g., specialists primarily in catering or vending are not included).
Where the Numbers Come From...
The number that determines each company’s place in the Top 50 is its domestic top-line revenues for the most recently completed fiscal year (indicated in each entry in millions of dollars). Because most companies in the Top 50 operate on calendar years, they show a 2009 figure. In the few cases where a company completed and compiled 2010 fiscal numbers, we’ve used that figure. Where revenue or other numbers were not available, FM estimates are based on known accounts and other information.
A unprecedented 15 companies in the Top 50 — including four of the top seven — reported revenue drops in their most recently completed fiscal years, starkly highlighting the difficult period the entire industry has experienced. On the other hand, there were also a number of companies that posted impressive gains, indicating that growth niches can be found in even the most challenging times.
The toll this has taken is reflected in the largest as well as regional contract operations. Even market-leading Compass Group North America reported only a marginal sales increase for FY 2009 while #2 Aramark experienced a $530 million decline. (The fiscal years reported here in most cases reflect a period that includes the deepest part of the U.S recession.)
FM's Top 50 is limited to firms that operate significant manual foodservice operations, whatever else they may do. For this reason, companies that are, for example, exclusively vending specialists or caterers are not included.
Because of this and other quirks in the contract services market, caution should be exercised before drawing larger conclusions about a company's market position simply from its nominal standing on the list.
Onsite foodservice is a remarkably varied industry encompassing operations in a wide variety of environments, from school lunchrooms to football stadium skyboxes. Given this diversity, one should review the business summaries for each company to get a more accurate picture of its market activity.
Another complicating factor: contract terms that affect the revenue a contractor derives from a particular operation may obscure the scope of what is being managed. For instance, a contractor may get more top-line revenue from a modest-sized P&L operation than from a straight fee arrangement that actually feeds many more customers.
In the Top 50, we use the gross revenue number that reflects the dollars companies put on their top line rather than a managed volume number because, in the end, a company's size is most accurately indicated by its gross revenues.