20,000 Next Staff To Share Boss's £4m Bonus
20,000 employees at Next, the clothing retailer, will share a £4m bonus being gifted to them by Lord Wolfson, its chief executive.
Sky News has learnt that the Conservative Peer has decided to hand out his award to the high street chain's staff for the second consecutive year.
Lord Wolfson's decision means an average windfall of roughly £200 being given to Next employees at a time when boardroom pay is coming under fresh scrutiny with the advent of new rules to give investors a binding vote on the issue.
The £4m award was due to be awarded to Lord Wolfson under a share-matching plan which involved executives converting part of their annual bonuses into Next stock.
The company would then match those shares, with the precise sum linked to Next's earnings per share performance.
In a letter sent to staff on Wednesday and seen by Sky News, Lord Wolfson said the trebling of the company's share price and 65% rise in earnings per share over the past three years meant his bonus "has become more valuable than I could possibly have hoped".
"I am also in the very fortunate position to have significantly benefited as a shareholder," he wrote.
"In these circumstances, instead of accepting the award, I have asked the board if they will share it amongst all those who have worked for the company during the three year...period 28 April 2011 to 28 April 2014."
The £4m will be shared among staff in proportion to their base salaries, while staff hourly rates will also increase by 37p, Lord Wolfson said.
"I hope you will accept this bonus as a personal gesture of thanks and appreciation for all your hard work and dedication to Next through testing economic times.
"Together, you have helped ensure that Next emerges from the credit crunch in better shape than it went in."
Lord Wolfson's remuneration for 2013 will be disclosed in the company's annual report, which is due to be published on Friday.
Last year, he received £4.6m even after giving up the £2.4m share-matching award.
Next's performance has contrasted with that of rivals such as Marks & Spencer, which analysts have forecast will report another like-for-like decline in clothing sales in a quarterly trading update on Thursday.