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Lesson Transcript


Gabriella: Hi everyone! Welcome back to EnglishClass101.com. I’m your host Gabriella
Gina: And I’m Gina
Gabriella: This is Culture Class, Season 2, Lesson 8 - Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in British Energy and Manufacturing
Gina: In this lesson we will give you an overview of the major players in British Energy and Manufacturing.
Gabriella: Shall we jump right in?
Gina: Sure!
Gabriella: At number 5, we have Dyson Ltd.
Gina: Dyson has a great story. It was founded by James Dyson in 1993. One day Dyson was renovating his house and was having trouble with his wheelbarrow, so he designed one that worked better.
Gabriella: The Ballbarrow, right? I know that one.
Gina: That’s the one! When Dyson bought a vacuum cleaner that quickly lost its suction, he decided to design one that worked better. A trip to a sawmill gave him the idea of using a cyclone to suck up the dust and so the first vacuum cleaner without a bag was designed.
Gabriella: Didn’t he quite famously create over 5,000 prototypes?
Gina: 5,127, to be precise! He didn’t get his breakthrough though until a Japanese company, named Apex licensed one of his designs. He used the money from that to create Dyson Ltd.
Gabriella: Dyson vacuum cleaners are very popular now, aren’t they? They took the regular vacuum cleaner and made it better.
Gina: That’s the company’s goal - to take old designs and make them better. They now sell machines in over 50 countries and employ over 4,000 people worldwide. In 2011 they had a net profit of £306 million.
Gabriella: And it all started from a re-designed wheelbarrow! Okay, in at number 4 is BAE Systems.
Gina: There’s a long history behind BAE Systems, so I’ll give you the short version.
Gabriella: Thank you!
Gina: After World War II, many British aerospace companies merged together to make larger companies. Eventually these multiple mergers resulted in companies called British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems. These two companies then merged in November 1999 to make BAE Systems.
Gabriella: So even though the company only came into existence in 1999, it has a really long history behind it?
Gina: That’s right, Gabriella! British Aerospace had also been a nationalised company in its past, meaning that it was government owned. There is still a relationship there, as even now BAE Systems are limited in their activities in some ways because they inherited this government link.
Gabriella: BAE Systems are an aerospace company and their speciality is military equipment.
Gina: Yes, in 2008 95% of their sales were military related. They are the main supplier to the UK Ministry of Defence but they actually sell more to the US Department of Defense.
Gabriella: Do they supply countries other than the UK and US?
Gina: They also have contracts in Australia, Sweden, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 2012, BAE System’s net profit was £1.079 billion.
Gabriella: That’s a lot of money!
Gina: It is, but I think our top three companies probably earn more than that…
Gabriella: Let’s see! At number 3 is another aerospace company – Rolls-Royce plc.
Gina: Yes, this Rolls-Royce company is an aerospace company and not a car company although it all hails from the same beginnings. Rolls-Royce started manufacturing aircraft engines in 1914 and supplied half of the engines used by the Allies in World War I.
Gabriella: That’s a long and successful history! I suppose they had a big presence in World War II, also.
Gina: That’s correct. After World War II they continued to produce engines but the company hit hard times in 1971 and was in administration. It was nationalised to save it, but was later privatised again in 1987.
Gabriella: What is the state of the company now?
Gina: Now it is the world’s third largest maker of aircraft engines. It supplies the Ministry of Defence, Boeing and Airbus, amongst others, and there are around 50,000 Rolls-Royce engines in service across 500 airlines and 100 different armed forces.
Gabriella: What is their profit? Is it higher than BAE Systems?
Gina: Just a little. In 2012 their net profit was £1.559 billion.
Gabriella: Let’s move on to number 2 now – GlaxoSmithKline.
Gina: GlaxoSmithKline is also known by the abbreviation GSK, so let’s use that instead as it’s easier and shorter!
Gabriella: Agreed!
Gina: GSK began in 2000 after the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham plc. Again, there was a series of earlier mergers that led to the stage of those two companies merging.
Gabriella: What does GSK do, exactly?
Gina: It’s the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, if measured by prescription drug sales. GSK develops medications and treatments for many major diseases but also manufactures consumer health goods, so things such as oral care and non-prescription medication.
Gabriella: Yeah, you can see the GSK brand everywhere in the UK. It’s a very well known brand.
Gina: It’s also quite well known worldwide, as GSK employs 100,000 worldwide and sells in 70 countries. Despite selling in so many countries, about 45% of its revenue comes from the US alone.
Gabriella: It’s really popular in the US then! So, what is GSK’s profit?
Gina: GSK’s net profit in 2012 was £4.744 billion.
Gabriella: Now that really is a lot of money! It eclipses the profits of the three companies we’ve already heard about, doesn’t it?
Gina: It does. But our number 1 earns even more.
Gabriella: Ah, in that case, I can’t wait to hear about number one! It’s Royal Dutch Shell.
Gina: Royal Dutch Shell was founded by another merger, this time between the Dutch company Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and the British “Shell” Transport.
Gabriella: The quotation marks in “Shell” Transport were actually part of the name.
Gina: That’s right, they were part of that brand. Anyway, the two companies merged in 1907 in order to compete with the American company Standard Oil and to also help survive the financial crisis that hit in 1907.
Gabriella: It seems that Shell petrol stations are everywhere. Their logo is really easy to spot!
Gina: Shell has 44,000 petrol stations worldwide in over 90 countries.
Gabriella: It must take a lot of petrol to fill those stations!
Gina: Yeah. Shell produces about 3.1 million barrels of oil each day.
Gabriella: So, what is Shell’s profit?
Gina: Shell is, by revenue, the largest company in the world and has recently topped the Fortune list of the top 500 countries in the world.
Gabriella: You’re teasing now! What’s the profit?
Gina: In 2012, Shell had a profit of around £17.152 billion.
Gabriella: I can’t even imagine that much money.
Gina: Neither can I, but that’s what Shell earned.
Gabriella: Wow! I think that’s a good way to end this lesson.
Gina: Yeah, me too! I’m going to try and think of what I would do with £17 billion...
Gabriella: I think I’ll have a daydream about that too!
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Gabriella: Join us again in the next lesson!
Gina: Bye!

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Hello Listeners! Have you ever heard about these companies?