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ASOS, Laura Ashley and Debenhams named UKs most reputable fashion retailers

ASOS, Laura Ashley and Debenhams top the UK RepTrak® ranking of high-street fashion companies’ reputations amongst the UK general public, Reputation Institute announced today, based on nearly 5,000 interviews with the UK general public.

The reputation ranking

The RepTrak® system measures a company’s ability to deliver on stakeholder expectations across the seven key rational dimensions of reputation: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance.

Companies are ranked on a score from 0-100 based on their overall reputation, and are grouped as Excellent (80+), Strong (70-79), Average (60-69), Weak (40-59) or Poor (Below 40).

The 2016 rankings for high-street fashion retailers operating in the UK stand as below:

Rank Company 2016 RepTrak® score
1 ASOS 80.4
2 Laura Ashley 77.8
3 Debenhams 77.4
4 Marks and Spencer 77.0
5 Next 76.3
6 SuperGroup (SuperDry) 76.3
7 Monsoon Accessorize 74.1
8 House of Fraser 73.1
9 H&M 72.4
10 Ted Baker 72.3
11 Matalan 70.1
12 TK Maxx 69.7
13 Abercrombie & Fitch 68.3
14 New Look 68.0
15 Very 67.4
16 Arcadia 64.0
17 Primark 61.5

The perception of fashion retailers amongst the UK general public is generally positive, with ten companies in the sector having ‘strong’ reputations and only one point separating companies ranked between 2nd and 6th.

Notably, online only retailer ASOS breaks into the ‘excellent’ category with a strong performance across the seven dimensions of reputation. The highest scores were achieved in innovation and leadership, and even perceptions of citizenship, an area where others in the industry have fallen down (see below), were high at 71.5 out of 100.

Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, comments: “It is intriguing that an online only retailer has achieved a stronger reputation than the old high-street favorites. This not only reflects the shift in shopping habits of the UK general public, but it also underlines the point, that you can build a high degree of trust, respect, and admiration without the face to face experience.”

“With only one retailer breaking through the ‘excellent’ barrier, many within the sector need to do more to cement and build upon their reputations. Businesses can gain further goodwill with the public by defining and further demonstrating responsible business behaviour and corporate citizenship.”

High-flyers ASOS, Laura Ashley and Debenhams prove that favorable perceptions across all dimensions of reputation are the key to success. Perhaps surprisingly, so-called high-street favorite New Look has experienced a steady reputational decline since 2013. New Look most recently took a reputational hit following a media outcry reacting to children’s clothing promoting poor body image.

Excelling in perceptions of citizenship boosts overall reputation

The 2016 UK RepTrak® study reveals that while fashion retailers are ranked highly for their products, workplace conditions and citizenship initiatives are areas that need to be addressed to mitigate reputational risk.

Primark, sitting at the bottom of the ranking, has the weakest scores for the citizenship and governance dimensions of reputation (49.4 and 46.2 out of 100 respectively), suggesting unethical supply chain practices have heavily impacted the consumer psyche.

Nielsen comments, “While reputation in the fashion industry is largely driven by the quality and desirability of products, we have seen Marks & Spencer, ASOS and SuperGroup(SuperDry)’s commitment to creating positive workplaces and focussing efforts on ethical supply chain boost their overall scores.

“We know that Primark has had some challenging reputational issues in recent years, and it is interesting to see that this perception still lingers despite their efforts to regain ground.  As in other sectors, the reputation of any company is as strong as the public’s trust in its corporate narrative, and once this trust is tainted it can take time to rebuild.”

Why reputation matters

Reputation Institute’s research reveals that reputation drives business results. The better the reputation, the more support a company gets. For companies with an average reputation, only 12% would definitely buy the products; this climbs to 28% if the reputation is strong, but increases to 76% if the reputation is excellent. At present, only ASOS sits in this category.

“The impact reputation has on business success is massive, which is why the leading companies in the world are managing this asset in a systematic way,” says Nielsen.

In the UK, consumers must consider companies’ reputations “Excellent” in order to have more than 50% of those surveyed claim that they would say something positive about a company, recommend its products, trust it to do the right thing, welcome it into the local community, and work for or invest in it.

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