The virtues of BAT Malaysia’s award winning annual report

AN annual report is an important form of communication for any public listed company. It provides investors and shareholders a comprehensive account of a company’s activities and financial performance for the preceding year.

Typically, traditional annual reports are often highly technical and jargon-filled, making it a layered and complex read.

Wanting its report to make an impact in the ‘mind and soul’ of investors, British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd (BAT Malaysia) made a conscious decision to develop a report that was reader-friendly, engaging and written in a simple, easy to understand narrative for its 2019 Annual Report that was aptly entitled The Real Deal.

The company poured in effort to transform the way the report is presented by delivering clear and engaging narratives coupled with a clever use of QR codes in key sections of the annual report.

Content was focused on the growing tobacco black market, a key issue that has long plagued the industry. Interestingly, prior to the release of the annual report, only limited information on the tobacco black market was available to shareholders.

Nevertheless, the publication of The Real Deal allowed BAT Malaysia to highlight the severity of the tobacco black market and unpack in detail the impact this illegal trade has on the legal industry and company’s performance.

All the toiling and burning of midnight oil is certainly worth it today as The Real Deal was adjudged the silver award winner at the prestigious International ARC Awards 2020 in the Food and Consumer Packaged Goods category.

“The aim was to create a book that not only covered all aspects of the company’s performance but highlighted on key business issues in an interesting and educative format for the reader,” justified BAT Malaysia’s managing director Jonathan Reed.

Reed’s views were echoed by the International ARC Awards president & founder Reni L. Witt who observed that despite the pandemic-stricken economic environment, some terrific annual reports were produced globally this year.

“BAT Malaysia created an amazing book,” commented Witt. “A compelling cover and convincing story impressed the judges. Considering that over 1,690 entries competed from 29 countries, capturing the Silver Award is indeed a world-class achievement.”

Established by MerComm Inc in 1987, the International ARC Awards has emerged as an avenue where overall excellence in the production of annual reports is celebrated.

Annual reports are reviewed by an esteem panel of experts from Austria, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Dubbed the ‘Academy Award of annual reports’ the award is unique in that each annual report is judged against itself based on its success in communicating the company’s very own story.

Elements considered by the judges include cover design, president’s letter, clarity of written text, presentation of corporate information, expression of financial data, and how well the spirit of the organisation is communicated. – Dec 3, 2020

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