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Caterer Elior serves up first H1 core loss since 2013

May 20 (Reuters) - French catering company Elior posted on Thursday a first-half core loss for the first time since at least 2013, as coronavirus restrictions continued to bite into revenues from shuttered schools and businesses.

Europe’s third biggest contract caterer reported an adjusted loss before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA) of 25 million euros ($30 million) for the six months ended March, compared to a profit of 52 million euros a year earlier - from revenues down 22% on an underlying basis.

However, the group boosted its available cash thanks to a state-backed loan and signed new contracts with firms such as Siemens Gamesa and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

“Given that our volume trends currently depend on the public health situation, we continue to focus our efforts on operating costs and available liquidity,” said Chief Executive Philippe Guillemot in a statement.

Britain’s Compass Group, the world’s largest catering company, and French rival Sodexo have had to cut jobs and clamp down on costs as extended lockdowns ate into earnings.

Elior does not not expect its business and industry operations to see material recovery before September, as vaccine rollouts dictate the easing of public health restrictions.

In France, its home market, Elior expects its education business to suffer from stricter health rules, as entire classes are sent home after a single positive COVID-19 test.

Delayed surgeries, closed hospital cafeterias and low nursing home occupancy should continue to impact its health business, it said.

$1 = 0.8208 euros Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk. Editing by Mark Potter

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