Friends Provident soars in wake of pension sales

Financial services group Friends Provident took second place in this week's Reputation Monitor after its pensions business jumped by over a quarter.

Friends Provident's life and pension sales increased by 21 per cent in the first quarter of 2005, increasing the value of its pensions business by 29 per cent on the same period in 2004.

The figures put the group behind Tesco, which returned to the top spot after a two-week absence. Tesco's £200m acquisition of the Cherokee label and the suffering of the supermarket chain's competitors helped its resurgence.

Banking giant Barclays also had a good week, taking third position after securing approval for the takeover of South Africa's largest retail bank, Absa Bank.

Despite losing top spot to Tesco, rival chain Asda remained in the top five after positive coverage of its policy of recruiting older people.

Marconi stayed at the bottom for a second consecutive week after it emerged that the company is cutting 800 jobs and considering a break up after its failure to win part of a £10bn BT contract.

While MG Rover remained second from bottom, a restructuring plan at IBM that could cost up to 13,000 mainly European jobs saw the computer maker take the third-worst position.

There was also more gloom at Matalan, whose fragile recovery appeared to stall after it revealed underlying sales had fallen nearly nine per cent at the start of the financial year.

Reputation Monitor is compiled from Thomson Intermedia's National News Index, a measure of media sentiment that excludes stock market reports and passing mentions.


Ranking Rank last week Organisation NNI

Best performers

1 2 Tesco 147

2 626 Friends Provident 113.7

3 7 Barclays 91

4 1 Asda 82.6

5 32 EasyJet 64.8


Worst performers*

1 1 Marconi -358.6

2 2 MG Rover -206.7

3 1,361 IBM -137.8

4 60 Matalan -113.7

5 763 HMV -74.8

SOURCE: Intermedia plc

* Rank last week is position from bottom of table

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