Service industry looks to an improved Britain

Guests enjoying themselves at last year’s champagne reception, sponsored by Heathrow Express

In uncertain times, companies that are willing to try something different – be that a new management team, an innovative business structure or a better use of technology – are those that tend to succeed.

Our choices come from the transport sector, catering, white-collar recruitment, online professional networking and management consulting.

All are at the forefront of demanding improvement massive improvements in their field and the country’s infrastructure. This ranges from expanding London’s capability to act as a hub for international commerce to trying out new methods of connecting people.

This category’s nominees live up to the best of these business services.



Arup has been at the forefront of transport projects for London, especially the call for a third runway to be built at Heathrow. Group chairman Philip Dilley, and a signatory to the Let Britain Fly campaign, wrote in City A.M that Sir Howard Davies’s Airports Commission was “the perfect wake-up call to our political leaders.” He also urged the three main parties to adopt the expansion as part of their 2015 general election manifestos. Its director of transaction advice, Alexander Jan, has urged the capital to adopt its £1.3 trillion London infrastructure plan in order to cope with population expansion by 2050.

The world’s biggest catering firm – it is also leading provider of primary school meals in the UK – Compass also operates cleaning, office and security services. Its Levy Restaurants has become Chelsea Football Clubs’s official catering partner responsible for the catering at all its facilities, including its iconic Stamford Bridge stadium and training centre in Cobham, Surrey. Compass has had a very successful year and has returned £1bn to shareholders through a special dividend, after strong business gains in North America helped push up first-half profits 5.7 per cent. Its adjusted pre-tax profit for the six months to 31 March rose to £608m.

Hays, which focuses on white-collar and specialist industry recruitment, is leading UK recruiters out of the woods with innovative use of online portals. It works closely with professional networking site LinkedIn with which it has integrated its own platform, so it can suggest jobs based on users’ real-time behaviour – when you update your profile, you’re judged more likely to be thinking about a move. It has also invested in its own British headcount. Hays has reported a 50 per cent rise in full-year profit thanks to the strong performance of international markets, especially in Asia.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, has seen the number of UK users pass the 15m mark in March. It has more than 277m members across the globe. Recruiters have been quick to acknowledge how LinkedIn has changed their approach. Neill Fry, director at UK executive search firm Edward Drummond, notes that the platform, especially in a professional environment, can become an ex­tension of your self “It sort of creeps into your life and your consciousness,” he said. The company, with a market capitalisation of $28bn (£17.4bn), also entered the top 100 brands index for the first time, and was placed at number 78.

This management consultancy giant helps some of the biggest companies in the world do better business. Founded in 1926, McKinsey & Company serves two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 and has a well-established London office. The firm’s research on everything from the future of cities to the new rules facing the financial sector is highly regarded. It has been prominent in calling for the expansion of digitisation, with a report estimating that data-driven decision-making strategies could generate up to $100bn annually across the US healthcare system alone, helping to optimise innovation, improve research, and build new tools for doctors.