Britain's Most Admired Companies

Jason Smith 11 December 2015
Definition of Admiration:

A feeling of wonder, pleasure, or approval; the act of looking on or contemplating with pleasure: admiration of fine paintings; an object of wonder, pleasure, or approval.

Management Today has been asking its readers for 25 years to also include UK companies in the above list so that it can compile and publish its yearly roundup of Britain’s Most Admired Companies (insert year).

How The Winners Are Chosen

With the help of the Leeds Business School, questionnaires are sent to Britain’s largest companies (in 25 sectors) and analysts at ‘leading City investment firms’ to evaluate their peers on the following qualities:

Quality of Management - Financial Soundness - Quality of Goods & Services - Ability to Attract, Retain & Develop Top Talent - Value as Long-term Investment - Innovation - Quality of Marketing - Community & Environmental Responsibility - Use of Corporate Assets

In the time-honoured tradition of summarisation, we have condensed the results for you here, starting with the top position going to:


British and Dutch in management, co-headquartered in London and Rotterdam respectively, Unilever scored highly for Financial Soundness, Ability to Attract … Talent, and for their Quality of Marketing . It’s not their first time either, having been previous winners, and for the award’s entire history have been close contenders for the top spot. Quite remarkable given that companies further down the chain like Tesco – a former six-time Most Admired winner – is now down the list at 163.

Unilever London HQ 100 Victoria Embankment

General Manager for UK and Ireland Gina Boswell, speaking to MT, said, “We are very proud of this award,” going on to add that “the blueprint for success is the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan,” a millennial-friendly initiative aiming to improve wellbeing and the environment for up to a billion people!

In at two this year is the rather unknown, but successful, Johnson Matthey, who are the market leader in all things automotive catalytic converters. Other top 10 winners include property  companies: Derwent London (third) and Great Portland Estates (seventh) who scored surprisingly well in Quality of Goods & Services and Innovation category, something the MT themselves highlight as being an “industry not renowned for either attribute” illustrating the distance they must’ve covered ascending the property ladder to reach such lofty climbs.


Easyjet do well remaining in the top five with Most Admirable Leader going to CEO, Carolyn McCall, who also becomes the first female CEO to covert the prize, which unfortunately shines a rather dim and sad light on the lack of women  at board level still.

Easyjet boss, Carolyn McCall

In response to winning she told The Telegraph’s Rebecca Burn-Callander, “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 Top Ten Most Admired Companies 2015

1. Unilever2. Johnson Matthey3. Derwent London 4. Easyjet5. Berkeley Group6. Betfair7.= Betfair7.= Great Portland Estates9. RB (formerly known Reckitt Benckiser)10. Rotork

For the full results please go to The Management Today website.

Whatever your views on the awards and how winners are chosen, it is still, however, a very interesting and intriguing set of data that has seen the arrival of the mobile phone, the internet,  a bubble, a bursting, two recessions,  CGI, a Copernican-like revolution in the global political landscape, coffee shops, health clubs (aka gyms), the Premier League, and moisturizer for men. All of which have had their effect on business in wildly varying degrees. Once platinum-clad goliaths have fallen from the highest states of grace as others quietly get on with the business of making money in industries that exist hidden under the hood of your car while others transport you to budget destinations in a flash of orange.

It will of course be interesting to transport ourselves 25 years into the future  and see if Unilever is still troubling the top spot, check out who has disappeared from view, and observe which new companies exist to service that latest technological advancement. Will it be low-budget space tourism, brainwave recognition tools, self-assemble holiday homes, privacy pods, or the eventual arrival of the true hover board? We will have to just wait and see.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia including a Most Admired band: Bad Company

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