Next staff get bonus as Wolfson forgoes £2.4m stock

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STAFF at high street stalwart Next will get a cash bonus after chief executive Lord Wolfson asked for his £2.4 million windfall under a share matching plan (SMP) to be given to workers.

Around 19,400 employees who have been with the company for the past three years will receive the bonus – equal to 1 per cent of their pay – in July.

Next’s annual report, which was published yesterday, revealed that boardroom pay jumped by more than 50 per cent to £17.6 million thanks to the SMP.

Group product director Christos Angelides leap-frogged chief executive Wolfson to become the highest-paid director, with Angelides’ total remuneration package more than doubling to £5.4m from £2.6m. Angelides received £1.7m-worth of stock under the SMP, alongside £2.4m-worth of shares through a long-term incentive plan (Ltip).

Even without the extra stock from the SMP, Wolfson’s package rose to £4.6m from £4.1m after his performance-related bonus increased to just under £1.1m from £753,000. The chief executive received £2.5m-worth of shares under the firm’s Ltip, matching last year’s stock haul.

Next’s other executive directors – finance chief David Keens and group property director Andrew Varley – also benefited from the SMP, with Keen’s package rising to just under £4.1m from £2.5m and Varley’s total increasing to £3m from £1.9m.

The firm said: “This remuneration is directly linked to strong profits and earnings per share growth, which have been reflected in Next’s increased share price and therefore the value of shares in the Ltip.

“The remuneration committee has carefully reviewed the level of performance-related remuneration earned by the executive directors. The committee considers that it is a strong reflection of Next’s operating and financial performance over the past three years and that it is aligned with the financial interests of shareholders generally.”

Next added that, over the past ten years, the company’s total returns to shareholders had grown by 430 per cent, while Wolfson’s remuneration had risen by 290 per cent.