May 16 (Reuters) - French catering group Elior reported higher-than-forecast first-half core profit on Thursday, saying the impact of inflation was more than offset by price rises and it was helped by operating efficiency gains.

Elior, which supplies businesses, schools, prisons, hospitals and care homes, has taken longer to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than its competitors Sodexo and Compass, struggling with inflation.

But it expects price increases after the renegotiation of contracts to drive revenues for the rest of its fiscal year.

"We've returned to operating profitability and have removed sources of losses within several strategic contracts. Our business development was robust, and we won and renewed major contracts during the period," CEO Daniel Derichebourg said.

Elior said that its consolidated revenue was 3.12 billion euros in the first half of its 2023-2024 fiscal year, mainly in line with a company-compiled consensus of analyst forecasts of 3.11 billion euros, while its adjusted EBITA margin reached 3.2% versus an estimate of 2.8%.

It said adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) were 100 million euros ($109 million) for the period from October 2023 to March 2024. This compared to 87 million euros ($94.69 million) forecast by analysts and 41 million euros during the same period a year ago.

Elior, which confirmed its annual targets, also said operational efficiency gains amounted to 29 million euros in the period, including 9 million euros in synergies. ($1 = 0.9193 euros) (Reporting by Diana Mandiá; Editing by Alexander Smith)