French contract catering giant Elior, which owns Avenance in the UK, has bought a 51% stake in British sports and leisure catering company Azure Support Services.
Azure, which has an annual turnover of €22m (£15.2m), provides the catering for Glasgow Rangers football club and the Royal Yacht Britannia. Elior announced its acquisition as it released its financial figures for the year ended 30 September.
Elior's sales for the year reached €2.5b (£1.73b), up 5% on the previous year. Its contract catering and concession catering divisions recorded increases of 3.2% and 6.7%, to €1.6b (£1.1b) and €887m (£612m) respectively, compared with the previous year.
New catering contracts for Elior represented an annual turnover of about €185m (£128m). In Britain, Avenance recorded successes in business, education and healthcare sectors.
The biggest wins included the House of Fraser stores contract, with 16 restaurants in London and Scotland, and the renewal and winning of contracts for the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace.
For the year ahead, Elior predicts an increase in sales of between 8% and 10%, with organic growth of 4-6%.
Chairman Robert Zolade said: "We can be confident of further improvement in our earnings and margins over the fiscal year 2004/05."