Supermarket chains dominate poll of the most reputable UK companies

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has ranked number one as the most reputable company in the eyes of British consumers, according to a leading survey.

The retail and food outlet topped the annual survey of 140 of the largest companies in the UK.

Medical device manufacturer, Smith & Nephew, and Cadbury’s took second and third place respectively. William Morrison, the supermarket chain, and Rolls Royce followed in fourth and fifth positions.

At the bottom end of the table were British Airways (45), Inchcape (46), BAE Systems (47), Pearson (48), Tomkins (49) and Avis Europe (50).

The results of the Reputation Institute’s (RI) survey show that consumer industries have not been dented by the current economic crisis. The performance of banks in the survey, however, was particularly bad. Nationwide Building Society was the only banking institution to feature in the top 50.

The survey, based on the opinions of 5,000 British consumers, measured corporate reputation based on consumers’ trust, esteem, admiration and good feeling.

“The performance of banks in the survey was particularly bad.

Seamus Gillen, UK MD of the Reputation Institute, commented: ‘The most telling finding is that, next to delivering strong products and services, consumers want companies to act transparently and ethically, and to prove that they care about society.’

‘We are clearly seeing the reaction to the way in which banks in particular have let people down, and destroyed public trust,’ he added.

The respondents were also asked to rank their favourite companies by category. Rolls Royce was judged to offer the best products and services, while M&S was viewed as the most appealing place to work as well as the company with the best overall governance. William Morrison was perceived as the best corporate citizen, while Tesco was seen as delivering the best financial performance.

According to the Reputation Institute a company’s reputation score has a positive and direct link to consumer attitudes and behaviours. The survey suggested that 57 % of consumers would give the most reputable companies across the globe the benefit of the doubt in a time of crisis.

This assessment, however, does not seem to ring true for M&S. Last month the company reported a decline in profits of 40 %.

The UK's ten most reputable companies were

Marks & Spencer
Smith & Nephew
Cadbury PLC
William Morrison Supermarkets
Tate & Lyle
Intercontinental Hotels
Thomas Cook