Upmarket taste in the works canteen

THE DAYS when staff canteens offered nothing more than curled up sandwiches, greasy fry-ups, lukewarm coffee or stodgy deserts may be numbered. According to Compass, one of the world's largest contract caterers, employees are demanding healthier and more sophisticated menus. Workers want to chomp on baguettes and fruit rather than sandwiches and spotted dick, and quaff cappuccinos rather than plain old filter coffee.

Compass has introduced a new food service, Pentagon, to cater for this change in tastes. More salads and snack items are available, as well as the "deep pan", where customers can watch their food being prepared. The group is also planning to introduce more brands such as Harry Ramsden's fish and chips, as well as some of its own concepts such as Upper Crust baguettes. "We want to create a new breed of staff restaurant. Our research has shown us this is what people want," said Roger Matthews, the chief executive of Compass.

Compass indicated yesterday that it would fight for its independence, despite intense speculation that the group may receive a bid approach. Francis Mackay, Compass's chief executive, said: "I do not see how anybody can afford to pay for the future growth we expect to generate. We don't need anybody else to help us."

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