Catering firm Compass posted results that were slightly better than expected, driven by new business wins and a high rate of contract retention.
Revenue of £8.6bn in the six months to the end of March was up 8.6% on the year before.
Underlying pre-tax profit was up 7.7% to £572m, while earnings per share rose 9.8% to 22.4p.
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The company pushed up its dividend by almost 11% to 7.2p.
The firm said the results had been buoyed by good trading momentum in its North America and its 'Fast Growing & Emerging' regions.
Its expectations for the full year remain unchanged despite warning that the difficult economic climate in Europe was likely to put pressure on like-for-like revenue and top line growth in the region.
However, it said it had found ways to drive greater efficiencies across Europe, which would give it the potential to improve margins "over time".
"We are well placed to capitalise on the significant structural growth opportunities in both food and support services around the world," said Chief Executive Richard Cousins.
"We have an excellent business in North America and we are expanding our presence in Fast Growing & Emerging markets, which remain a focus for future growth."
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