BMAC: Britain's least admired companies - BMAC's bottom scorers

Spare a thought for this year's wooden spoon holders.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

So the gold medals have all been handed out and 2012's proud champions in the admiration Olympics have taken their rightful places in BMAC history. Now it's time to have a look at the wheezing wrecks at the other end of the field, the ones that not only didn't qualify but who didn't even qualify for the qualifiers: Britain's Least Admired Companies.

Bringing up the rear is Bracknell-based telecoms services outfit Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW). Formed by the two-way split in 2010 of the old Cable & Wireless Group, CWW had an unhappy 25 months as an independent entity before Vodafone put it out of its misery, buying it for £1bn back in April. Before its rescue, CWW's share price collapsed from 98.5p to 13p, and it posted a disastrous £433m half-year loss. It also got through two chief execs, Jim Marsh and then John Pluthero, both of whom managed to anger shareholders by trousering substantial pay-offs.

Pub company Enterprise Inns makes a repeat appearance, second from last at 253, despite trying to get back on the straight and narrow by paying down debt and selling unviable pubs. But there is clearly plenty more work to be done to rehabilitate it in the eyes of leisure trade peers.

Next up, retailer Darty, or the company formerly known as Kesa. This was the original parent of the Comet electrical chain, which it sold to private equity outfit OpCapita for a mere £2 at the beginning of the year. Ten months later, Comet went into administration, putting 6,600 jobs at risk in its 230-odd stores, although the rumour is that OpCapita itself may end up making a profit on the deal.

Having dumped Comet, Kesa decided to rename itself Darty, after its French retail business, which operates stores in Italy, Luxembourg and Turkey as well as France. Under this new monicker, one of the UK's retail stars of the early noughties departed our shores to lick its wounds.

Making its table debut at 251st is Huntsworth, the company behind PR agencies Grayling and Citigate. PR, of course, is an industry with a reputation only slightly less lamentable than that of journalism. Well, when you start at the bottom the only way is up.

(Dis)honourable mention also goes to posh food delivery business Ocado, which is outside the bottom 10 at 242 but has enjoyed a spectacular fall from grace, down 114 places from 128 last year. It also comes last overall for financial soundness. Despite sales up 10% to £162.9m for the three months to August, analysts estimate that Ocado will make a £1m loss for the year, marking a profit-free decade since those friendly-looking delivery vans first hit the streets of London.

At 248 is train and bus operator FirstGroup. How different might its fortunes have been if the fateful west coast rail franchise bid had not gone so awry. 'Winning' bidder FirstGroup ended up very much the loser, with costs in the tens of millions. What a way to run a railway.

Thomas Cook improves on last year - but as it was Britain's Least Admired Company in 2011, it could hardly have done worse, as it struggles to keep up in the age of DIY online adventurers.

Thence comes the other half of the Cable & Wireless demerger, the actually not badly performing Caribbean mobile network operator CWC, preceded by another retailer, Argos parent company Home Retail Group. Having sounded the death knell (or shrinkage at any rate) of the much-loved Argos catalogue earlier this year, HRG is hoping that a move upmarket and onto the internet will improve its prospects. But its chances of making Rio 2016 still look a long way off ...


245 Home Retail Group 40.50
246 Cable & Wireless Communications 39.92
247 Thomas Cook Group 38.71
248 FirstGroup 38.00
249 Cookson 37.71
250 Gala Coral 37.23
251 Huntsworth 36.83
252 Darty (formerly Kesa Electrical) 36.64
253 Enterprise Inns 33.22
254 Cable & Wireless Worldwide* 31.93

*merged, acquired or name changed

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