Amazon is UK's most reputable retailer, Sports Direct its least

Amazon has apparently shrugged off criticism of its tax arrangements and reportedly poor working conditions and won the accolade of the UK's most reputable retailer, according to research from the Reputation Institute.

Amazon is UK's most reputable retailer, Sports Direct its least

Amazon was joined at the top of the 2018 UK Retail RepTrak ranking by Boots, John Lewis, Co-op and Debenhams, in second, third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

However, faring less well, Sports Direct was judged the UK's worst retailer reputation-wise, thanks to its 73 per cent profit decline last month and widespread condemnation of its treatment of staff.

The Reputation Institute's rankings were based on ratings from 5,175 consumers and individual assessments of the 50 nominated companies.

Amazon managed to improve its performance in the survey compared with last year, growing in reputation by 8.3 points. It was voted top retailer across products and service, innovation, leadership and performance.

This was in spite of growing criticism of its tax arrangements. Earlier this month, Amazon reported that its tax bill for last year fell to £4.6m from £7.4m in the previous year, even though it trebled its profits.

But Sports Direct was unable to defy poor publicity, with a poor performance in the ranking. Its points fell from 53 in 2016 to 48.4 in 2018, scoring badly in four categories — workplace, governance, citizenship and leadership.

Elsewhere in the top 10 were department store Debenhams (sixth), auction house Sotheby's (seventh), Waitrose (eighth), Tiffany & Co (nineth) and eBay (tenth).

The bottom five in the overall top 50 were, in descending order, B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher, McColl's, Dunhill, JD and Sports Direct.

Rise of discounters 

Meanwhile, the Reputation Institute said a rapid rise in reputation among the German discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl demonstrated a strong link between company performance and good products and services and reputation. Lidl came 13th in the ranking, while Aldi came 22nd.

Retail outperformed most industry sectors, coming fourth after FMCG (first), automotive (second) and industrial (third). The worst-performing sectors were telecoms and energy.

The report suggests consumers are increasingly concerned over ethical standards, around areas such as sustainability and staff treatment. Whether or not a company has a positive influence on society and employs fair business practices and ethical behaviour contributed to 17 per cent of overall corporate reputation.

Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, the Reputation Institute's chief reputation officer, said: "Amazon’s combination of selection, value, personalisation, and no-hassle customer service is a winning formula...

"Despite their position of strength, Amazon is faced with reputation risk based on the proposed 'Amazon tax' and growing criticism of working conditions in their vast distribution centres."

This article first appeared on PRWeek.

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