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Next faces investor backlash over CEO bonus

Tom Shearsmith
16 May 2022

Next CEO Simon Wolfson is facing backlash over his executive bonus after the retailer received government support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wolfson, whose pay will be put to a vote on Thursday, took home almost £4.4 million last year, up 50% on the year before, after being awarded an annual bonus worth 100% of his basic salary and two share bonuses based on long-term company performance.

As reported by The Guardian, The Institutional Voting Information Service (IVIS) has given Next a “red top” rating, urging shareholders to vote against the payment. The company has raised concerns about the bonus, at a time when both companies benefited from government support including furlough pay for workers and business rates relief.

In July 2021, Next agreed to repay £29 million in business rates to the government after sales soared faster than expected. The £29 million covers the period when the company had stores open but was not charged the commercial property tax.

“Shareholders will need to be satisfied that the payment of bonuses was appropriate in a year when the company again participated in the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and there is no clear indication whether the company has or intends to repay the support received from the government” IVIS said of Next.

Earlier this month, Next reported full price sales were up 21.3% year-on-year for the first quarter of 2022/23.

Next recently began the rollout of a new logo, dropping its lowercase branding that has been seen since 2007 in favour of a new bold capitalised font.

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