Belfast Telegraph

Next boss's total pay packet plummets by more than 55%

The boss of Next has seen his total pay packet plummet by more than 55% after tough trading on the high street pushed the retailer to its first fall in annual profits for eight years.

Chief executive Lord Wolfson saw his total remuneration drop to £1.8 million for 2016/17, down from £4.3 million for the year before, as the high street bellwether's lacklustre performance left executives with no annual bonus and a significant cut to their long-term share awards.

In the retailer's annual report, the remuneration committee said it had also cut planned pay rises for the Next board after the firm eked out lower-than-expected profits and earnings per share.

Executive directors Michael Law and Jane Shields were both in line for a 15% annual salary increase to £475,000, but instead were handed a 1% rise to £416,200 for 2016.

The move comes as Next unveiled a new remuneration policy for the three years to 2020, which will face a binding shareholder vote at the firm's annual general meeting (AGM) on May 18 this year.

Caroline Goodall, chairman of the remuneration committee, said: "As outlined in our strategic report it has been a challenging year for Next and the remuneration outcomes for the directors have reflected this.

"Total annual remuneration earned by our executive directors for the financial year 2016/17 was significantly less than that earned for the financial year 2015/16.

"In the view of the remuneration committee, this is appropriate and aligns the remuneration received by management with the experience of shareholders."

Next posted a 3.8% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £790.2 million for the year to January - the first fall in profits since 2008/09 at the height of the financial crisis.

The retailer confirmed in March that it had hiked prices by 4% on average for the first half of the year and warned prices would remain under pressure in the second half from rising buying costs caused by the Brexit-hit pound.

It comes after BP announced earlier this month that boss Bob Dudley has seen his pay package slashed by 40% for 2016 and his maximum earnings cut by 3.7 million US dollars (£3 million) over the next three years.

The oil giant confirmed the new proposed pay deal will be "simpler and more transparent" and lead to "lower levels of reward" as it looks to avoid a repeat of last year's investor revolt.

Blue-chip firms are bracing themselves for a showdown with investors at a number of AGMs this year,as concern over executive pay threatens to boil over.

Drax Group, the owner of the UK's largest power station, was dealt a bloody nose on Thursday when a third of shareholders voted against the company's executive pay report.

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