February 12, 2019 / 4:59 PM / 5 months ago

Sodexo's sport and leisure business targets China in growth drive

* Focus on organic growth in the coming years

* Bought U.S company Centerplate in 2017 for $675 mln

* Handles events including Super Bowl and Royal Ascot

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Sodexo's sport and leisure business, which provides catering at the U.S. Super Bowl, Royal Ascot and the Eiffel Tower, will focus on organic growth as it integrates its 2017 U.S. acquisition Centerplate.

Nathalie Bellon Szabo, the chief executive of Sodexo's Sports & Leisure Worldwide business said it plans to grow in its three key markets of the United States, France and Britain by securing more contracts and also look to expand in China.

The business, which recently secured a contract for the Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong, will pursue contracts for airport lounges in China, as well as contracts for stadiums, museums and convention centres.

Sodexo is the world's second-largest food catering services group after Britain's Compass, generating annual revenue of 20 billion euros ($22.6 billion).

Its sport and leisure business, which provides tickets, travel, food and logistics, bought Centerplate, a U.S. company catering at events such as the NFL Super Bowl and the U.S. Presidential inaugural balls for $675 million.

This doubled its revenue to 1.7 billion euros and made the United States its top market, with 65 percent of its revenue.

"We now need to stabilise our growth and expand organically in our business segments and key countries and focus on improving our profitability," Bellon Szabo told reporters.

It also owns and runs the Lido cabaret in Paris and the Yachts de Paris and Bateaux Parisiens River Seine cruises.

It recently secured a contract to manage the Eiffel Tower's restaurants for another ten years, with a target of boosting by 35 percent revenues of roughly 40 million euros under the previous deal. ($1 = 0.8847 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Alexander Smith)

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