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Collage of company annual reports

Company annual reports

"Just tested this out on a retailer I am working on - what a fantastic service! Saves so much time "

Senior Lecturer in Retailing, Manchester Business School

In partnership with Mergent Online, The University of Manchester Library has recently digitised its unique collection of over 80,000 historical company annual reports.

Dating from the 1960s, this collection offers researchers unique primary research material and has been converted from microfiche and print to be fully integrated into the digital Mergent Annual Reports collection.

The reports can be accessed by University of Manchester staff and students online via the Library’s databases A-Z list.

External visitors can access the reports at the Precinct Library.

Access the collection

About the collection

More than 80,000 annual reports are included, featuring unique sets from companies central to the UK business and finance landscape for more than 30 years.

The collection is as fascinating for the glimpses it gives us into cultural, political, marketing and design development as it is important for business historians and researchers.

Highlights of the collection include complete runs of reports from companies such as British Airways and Coca Cola, extending from the 1960s through to the 1990s, as well as those of international giants BP, GlaxoSmithKline and General Motors.

For political historians, former nationalised companies British Airways, British Gas and British Steel are also present.

Those interested in the development of financial markets can search important historic information, while those interested in marketing, social history or the development of commercial art can examine in detail the changing ways in which companies have presented this information.

Benefits of digitisation

Until now this material has been available only in print or as microfilmed copies.

The complete collection has been digitised on behalf of the Library by Mergent, a world-leader in the provision of business and financial information. Digitised in full colour, the result allows researchers to examine pages in closer detail than ever before.

The reports themselves have been incorporated into Mergent’s Historical Annual Reports Archive, making the information available to users around the world as well as to researchers and students at Manchester. For the first time, the reports can be searched by keyword, allowing researchers more efficient access to a wealth of information.

Comparisons between companies over a range of years and companies within similar industrial sectors can now be made quickly and efficiently thereby by aiding retrieval and analysis with detailed research projects.

Case study

The full case study is available to download as a PDF: