2001: Britain's most admired companies

2001: Britain's most admired companies - Respect in business is hard won; the respect of your rivals doubly so. This is why MT's annual Most Admired Company award is so coveted - to have earned the admiration of one's peers is high praise. This year, the

by CHRIS BLACKHURST

Respect in business is hard won; the respect of your rivals doubly so. This is why MT's annual Most Admired Company award is so coveted - to have earned the admiration of one's peers is high praise. This year, the oil giant Shell shook off City criticism and tough challenges from newly demerged AstraZeneca and previous winners Tesco and BP to take the top spot for the first time in a decade. But BP's CEO Lord Browne can console himself with his third successive Most Admired Leader award. Chris Blackhurst reports

If Stephen Byers had second thoughts when he pulled the plug on Railtrack, a sneak preview of MT's Most Admired Companies rankings for 2001 would have hardened his resolve. Because one of the abiding themes of this year's list is not at the top but at the bottom, where one company came last or second-to-last in every single category.

The 10 largest companies in Britain in 24 sectors were asked to evaluate their peers in different categories on a scale of 0 to 10. And Railtrack trailed in every one: quality of management; financial soundness; quality of products and/or services; ability to attract, develop and retain top talent; value as a long-term investment; capacity to innovate; quality of marketing; community and environmental responsibility; and use of corporate assets. Quite an achievement. Indeed, D Michael Brown of Nottingham Business School, the compiler of the survey since its inception 12 years ago, says it is unique - 'quite remarkable, no other company has performed quite so badly'.

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