Compass Group (CPG) has reported a “strong” first-half but subdued trading on the Continent offset good growth in the UK.

Dominic Blakemore, group chief executive, said performance in Europe was mixed, performance in Rest of the World was improving and North America continued to make “excellent progress with broad-based growth across sectors”.

The group posted interim pre-tax profit down from £831m to £792m in the six months to 31 March 2018 on revenue down 0.8% from £11.5bn to £11.4bn.

Organic revenue climbed 4.8% from £10.9bn to £11.5bn and underlying operating profit up 4.5% from £837m to £875m.

Compass shares fell 4.7% today in morning trading to 1,509.5p and are now down 7.5% over the past six months.

Blakemore said: “Our continuous focus on efficiencies and pricing was offset by inflation and cost of change actions in the UK. As a result, our group operating margin declined slightly in the half. However, the benefits of these actions will come through in the second half.”

The business was trading well and its full year expectations were unchanged, with organic growth above the middle of its 4-6% range, and modest margin progression, he said.

Blakemore added that he wanted Compass to drive performance by focusing on its core food business.

“We are increasing our intensity around our MAP framework, with the systematic roll out of best practices and technology. At the same time, we are reviewing the portfolio to strengthen our capability and simplify the business.

“People are key to our success and we are working hard to continue to attract, develop and retain the very best talent. In addition, we will integrate our social and environmental ambitions more fully into our strategy and day to day operations.”

Blakemore was “excited about the significant structural growth opportunities globally and the long-term potential for further revenue growth, margin improvement, as well as continued returns to shareholders”.