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Amazon and Starbucks take reputation hit from tax avoidance publicity

Both companies have regularly hit the headlines in recent years for paying low levels of corporation tax

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 26 July 2017 16:56 BST
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The 2,500 European jobs are part of a global plan to take on 10,000 refugees in 75 countries that Seattle-based Starbucks announced in January
The 2,500 European jobs are part of a global plan to take on 10,000 refugees in 75 countries that Seattle-based Starbucks announced in January (Reuters)

Amazon and Starbucks have taken a hit to their reputation after regularly hitting the headlines in recent years for paying low levels of corporation tax.

Amazon saw its overall reputation score fall 6 percentage points from 80 out of 100 to 74, according to a new survey. Starbucks dropped 5 points from an average 61 out of 100 to a weak 56, according to research by consultancy firm Reputation Institute.

The survey measured people's perceptions on seven key elements of reputation: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance.

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

Starbucks saw a particularly big fall of 11 points from 58 in 2016 to 47 in 2017 for fairness, ethics and transparency. Amazon's score was down 4 points from 65 to 61 in this category.

Amazon, which has had poor publicity about conditions at its factories in both the US and the UK saw a 14 percentage point fall in how positively people perceive the company as a place to work.

However, both companies scored highly when it comes to perceptions of their products and services. Amazon has maintained an excellent rating, with 84 out of 100, and Starbucks has a strong rating, at 70.

James Bickford, managing director at Reputation Institute said: “The reputations both Starbucks and Amazon now have for avoiding large tax bills in the UK have meant they are regarded very poorly in terms of corporate governance. In order to have an excellent reputation it is becoming imperative for businesses to successfully communicate societal value, openness and fairness.”

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