LONDON: Some of the biggest retailers and food companies in the UK have the best corporate reputations among consumers.

The Reputation Institute, the consultancy, asked 5,591 people to rate some of the country's biggest firms in terms of whether they inspired trust, admiration, esteem and a "good feeling".

According to the organisation, the businesses which posted positive results typically saw this reflected in the behaviour of customers, particularly when it came to recommending goods and services. 

Boots, the high street chemists, led the rankings, and was followed in the list by Rolls Royce, the automotive-to-aerospace company.

Cadbury, the confectionary manufacturer, came in third, despite concerns that its recent acquisition by Kraft could damage public perceptions.

Making up the top four were Christie's, the auctioneers, and the John Lewis Partnership, the department store chain.

Elsewhere, Marks & Spencer, the apparel and premium food retailer, dropped to sixth position having claimed first place in the same poll last year. 

Debenhams, another department store operator, Morrison's supermarkets, United Biscuits, the snack company, and Tate & Lyle, the food group, completed the top ten.

The overall strength of the retail industry was demonstrated by the fact it contributed 11 of the 20 most highly-regarded firms in the eyes of shoppers.

British American Tobacco, the cigarette manufacturer, received the lowest score of the 140 featured corporations, with Imperial Tobacco only performing marginally better.

The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB, the financial services providers, were some of the other members of the bottom five.

British Airways, Eurostar and Royal Mail all tumbled down the ratings, as they appeared to "pay the price for industrial action and broken trains that hugely inconvenienced customers".

Phones 4U, the mobile phone chain, NCP, the car park operator, and Daily Mail & General Trust, the media owner, were similarly named as having a "shockingly poor reputation among consumers".

"Companies are quick to champion their customer service but it is clear events like striking staff and poor service stay in the mind of the public," Seamus Gillen, managing director of the Reputation Institute UK, said.

"The aftershocks of the banking crisis have also been felt since our last report, leading many people to lose their trust in some of the country's biggest brands."

Data sourced from The Guardian/Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff