Cadbury Schweppes is Britain’s Most Admired Company

The winners of Britain’s Most Admired Companies awards, run by Management Today magazine, were revealed last week. Mike Berry reports on the winners and losers.

Britain’s Most Admired Companies is the UK’s longest established business awards competition. The league table is determined by a poll of the biggest companies, which scrutinise and evaluate their peers.

This year Cadbury Schweppes took the top award, ahead of Unilever, BP and the 2003 winner Tesco.

Participants rated their rivals on a scale of one to 10 against nine criteria: quality of management; financial soundness; quality of products and services; ability to attract, develop and retain top talent; value as long-term investment; capacity to innovate; quality of marketing; community and environmental responsibility; and use of corporate assets.

Analysts at leading City investment firms were also polled in research conducted by Nottingham Business School.

Former winner

Cadbury Schweppes has rarely been out of the top 10 throughout the decade the awards have been run, and was a winner in 1995. It was the only company to reach the top five in six of the nine categories, including rating best for quality of goods and services and second place for marketing.

The company employs 55,000 people worldwide and has recently seen a multi-billion dollar acquisition of US firm Adams from Pfizer, making it the largest confectionery group in the world.

Chief executive Todd Stitzer said: “Our success is driven by our unrelenting focus on working together to create brands people love and a strong commitment to values that run through all elements of our business.”

While the top four winners might be considered ‘usual suspects’, there is some interesting movement lower down the poll. Climbing at an impressive rate is the financial services group Man Group, which has made it into the top 10 for the first time.

Taking fifth place in the overall ranking, up from 27th last year, it topped the capacity to innovate category, ahead of companies which are more usually thought of as being at the forefront in this field.

Biggest climber

The biggest climber in the 2004 poll is the pub retailer and brewer Greene King, up from 113 to 11th position, and taking the top spot in its sector. The company enjoyed a 10 per cent rise in profits this year and made its biggest ever acquisition when it bought Laurel pubs for £654m.

HR director Julian Bradwell puts its success is primarily down to two factors. “First, the business is financially sound and successful,” he said. “Second, the company has always had a reputation as a good employer.”

HR has had a key role to play within the company over the past 12 months, he said. “We try to maintain a level of intimacy with employees and keep our best talent within the business.”

Troubled oil giant

Shell’s tumble to 64th position from its virtually guaranteed place in the top 10 is perhaps the least surprising, given the revelations earlier this year that its oil reserves had been overstated.

Shell’s HR director was unwilling to comment about its position in the table or how it might improve its standing.

Among the least admired companies is financial services firm Royal & Sun Alliance, which remains in the bottom 10 despite taking on new management. Abbey National exits the poll at a dismal 216th having being sold to Spain’s Banco Santander earlier this year.

Participants in the awards were asked to rate their nine sector rivals on a scale of zero to 10 (0 = poor; 5 = average; 10 = excellent). Totals were:

Company                      2004   2003   Score
Cadbury Sceweppes             1     7  69.62
Unovlever     2     6  69.37
BP     3     4  68.56
Tesco     4     1  68.10
Man Group     5   27  67.90
Serco Group     6     –  67.37
IMI     7     –  66.60
HSBC     8   19  66.34
Vodafone     9   31  66.30
Wolseley   10   54  65.50
Greene King   11 113  64.71
Royal Bank of Scotland   12   20  64.67
GlaxoSmithKline   13     2  64.33
Weir Group   14     –  64.00
Reckitt Benckiser   15   22  63.80
Rotork   16     –  63.67
AstraZeneca   17     3  63.60
Rolls-Royce   18   71  63.26
Kidde   19     –  63.20
Compass   20   14  63.17










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