Radio operator UKRD heads Burnetts, BBH and MEC among best UK companies to work for

UKRD, formerly The Local Radio Company, is the best UK company to work for according to a Sunday Times survey, way ahead of others in the media and marcoms sector including Leo Burnett (39th place), WPP media buyer MEC (68), Bartle Bogle Hegarty (69), PR firm Edelman (74), Engine Group (86), Kantar Worldpanel, the old TNS research company now also part of WPP at 99 and Tesco Clubcard inventor DunnHumby (100).

Companies put themselves forward for these awards so they should probably be taken with a pinch of salt but it’s a good result for UKRD, especially considering that the company’s average salary is around £25,000, low in comparison to the others.

UKRD operates 15 local radio stations from Sunderland in the north east down to Redruth in Cornwall. It also owns 46 websites including Its management, headed by CEO William Rogers (left), made pre-tax profits of £1.4m on sales of £16m which is pretty impressive too.

Rogers also gets to live in Cornwall, so happiness all round.

There’s a tenuous connection between UKRD and Publicis Groupe-owned Leo Burnett in that the agency used to be headed by Richard Wheatly who was also boss of The Local Radio Company before it was sold to UKRD in 2009. Wheatly now owns digital radio station Jazz FM.

And Wheatly is, indeed, a nice chap.

Burnetts has always been less frenetic that most of its peers, still adhering to old Leo Burnett’s principles and helped by the fact that it has never chased new business for the sake of it, preferring to concentrate on long-term accounts like Kellogg’s, McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble.

BBH is still up there despite showing a harder edge in relation to its employees recently, making ten per cent of the London staff redundant in the depths of the recession. But CEO Ben Fennell wins golden opinions from his troops and the agency makes money too, £4.2m in £142 billings in London.

One place ahead of BBH is WPP-owned MEC, the former CIA which Sir Martin Sorrell bought in a bitterly contested takeover battle in 2001. Another WPP acquisition Kantar Worldpanel, formerly independent market research giant TNS bought in 2008, is at 99.

WPP companies don’t break out their profits but the three remaining are interesting from this point of view. PR firm Edelman is clearly a great place to work (although staff say they do too much of it). But it made just £200,000 on £30m sales last time round.

Engine, run by Peter Scott, made £5.8n pre-tax on £59m of income while Clubcard inventor DunnHumby in 100th place made a whopping £53m on £133m of sales.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.