Unilever revealed as Britain’s Most Admired Company 2015
The results of the 25th annual survey of Britain’s Most Admired Companies (BMAC), conducted by Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett University, and Management Today, were announced at an event in London on Thursday 3 December.
Unilever has appeared in the top 20 every year since the study began in 1990, taking the top prize previously in 2010. The Anglo-Dutch firm, which produces products including PG Tips, Marmite and Dove, is forecasting £35 billion in sales this year, up four per cent on 2014.
Professor Mike Brown, Head of the Centre for Corporate Reputation and Strategy at Leeds Business School who leads the survey, said: “Unilever’s achievement, not only in winning the overall award twice but also in being such a constant presence near the top of the table, is testimony to the value of a good reputation, nurtured carefully over many years.”
In second place was Johnson Matthey, which makes automotive catalytic converters, while housebuilder, Derwent London was third.
The top 10 this year was mostly dominated by housebuilders and gambling companies: Berkeley Group and Great Portland Estates secured top spots, alongside Betfair and Paddy Power. This is a marked departure from the first ever BMAC top 10, which was dominated by supermarkets and oil giants.
In addition, Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive of EasyJet, was voted the most admired leader in Britain – the first woman to receive the title. Ms McCall is one of just six female CEOs running a FTSE 100 company and commented: “I hope that this will inspire more women, and that they will want to be in business and do it their way, be leaders of companies in their way. Man or woman, it’s an honour to get an award like this. I’ve never underestimated how important it is to be a role model for women but I prefer to do that quietly rather than loudly.”
The Britain’s Most Admired Companies survey is the only academic study of its kind in the UK, measuring companies’ reputational success based on the perceptions of its peers: 200 business leaders and city analysts in Britain. The research is published every year in Management Today.
This year, of the 245 companies identified as the most admired, a number from the Yorkshire region made it onto the shortlist, including Asda, KCOM Group, Morrisons, Card Factory and Persimmon.
Last year’s top accolade went to sustainable technologies multinational, Johnson Matthey, with the award of Britain’s Most Admired Leader going to John Lewis Managing Director, Andy Street. Past winners include Diageo, BskyB, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.
Professor Mike Brown explained: “Like individuals, companies have personalities and reputations. A company’s reputation is based on how people think and feel about a company. What better way to access ‘Britain’s Most Admired Company’ than to ask a peer group of senior executives and analysts about their thoughts and feelings of a company. The survey attempts to capture the tacit knowledge of these two key constituent groups whose jobs rely on their knowing about other companies within the industry sector.
“It is the company senior executives and the city investment analysts who should know about these companies and the research attempts to gather their perceptions across a series of characteristics that when added together provides a measure of the reputation of the company. Following the revelations from VW, we know that reputation can take a very long time to build but a very short time to lose.”
Professor Christopher Prince, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law and Pro Vice Chancellor at Leeds Beckett University, added: “Professor Brown’s ‘Most Admired Company’ research and its allied awards have become much sought after by UK companies and their Chief Executives. Professor Brown’s research here at Leeds Business School is also recognised as an important measure of a company’s reputation, and this applied research fits well with the practice-based philosophy which underpins the work of the School.”
The Britain’s Most Admired Companies survey was first published in The Economist in 1990. In 1994 it was published in Management Today for the first time.
The awards are a peer review of corporate reputation. Each year, Professor Brown canvasses the opinions of 200 of the UK’s largest companies across 25 sectors. Using nine criteria, participants are asked to rate their sector rivals
on a range of criteria, including the quality of its marketing, its financial performance and the strength of its management team. Respondents are also asked to name their most admired leader.