Halma: The best company you've never heard of?

Manufacturing conglomerate Halma’s steady progress might not seem spectacular, but there’s a reason it’s Britain’s Most Admired Company of 2020.

by Adam Gale

If a Twitter profile is a measure of prominence, you would be forgiven for being unaware of Halma. The plc account of this FTSE 100 group, crowned Britain’s Most Admired Company 2020, had only 979 followers at the time of going to press. The last three winners, by contrast, had 188,000 (Greggs), 44,000 (Diageo) and 229,000 (Unilever).

This anonymity extends to the company’s products, though many have benefitted from them in some profound ways: the 45 brands operated under the Halma umbrella manufacture a plethora of safety, environmental and medical devices, from gas detection and security locks to water purification technology and instruments used in cataract operations.

Indeed, its multinational portfolio gets Halma, still headquartered in Buckinghamshire after nearly 50 years, into some rarified places. Centrak tracking technology is used in the cold chain logistics for Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, while Palintest helps ensure the water in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan is safe to drink. Navtech Radar’s sensors are used in the UK’s smart motorways and in driverless cars, while Oseco pressure safety systems are notable for having prevented “catastrophic asset failure” in Texas fracking operations. The Queen, no less, relies on Apollo fire alarms to protect royal palaces.

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