May 6, 2020 / 8:38 AM / a month ago

ISS sees back-to-work boost from demand for deep cleaning services

COPENHAGEN, May 6 (Reuters) - Danish services provider ISS said it was seeing higher demand for disinfection and deep cleaning of premises as people start returning to work after the coronavirus lockdown.

ISS, one of the world’s biggest private employers, reported first quarter sales above expectations but said it had temporarily or permanently laid off just under a quarter of its 471,000 workforce as many clients such as large banks had been forced to shut their offices.

The Copenhagen-based company, which delivers services such as cleaning and catering to more than 200,000 clients in 63 countries, posted first-quarter revenue of 19.1 billion Danish crowns ($2.8 billion) on Wednesday, above the 18.2 billion forecast by analysts.

While airport and catering services were hard hit by the lockdown, new business opportunities are arising as large clients, which include Deutsche Telekom, prepare to let people return to work.

“We are the last to shut down sites and the first to reopen them when people begin to return to their workplaces,” CEO Jeff Gravenhorst told Reuters in an interview.

As people return to work, ISS staff will advise them on how to limit the risk of spreading the virus, including how to act in the reception or canteen, how to disinfect their mobile phones, and making sure sick people don’t turn up to work.

“We are training ‘hygiene stewards’ around the world who will clean and disinfect workplaces during the day and advise people on how to act,” he said. “Feeling safe is a big part of returning to work.”

Shares in ISS rose nearly 8% at opening and were trading almost 5% higher at 0830 GMT. ($1 = 6.8883 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen Editing by Keith Weir)

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