Staff cash in after record Tesco profits

MORE than 207,000 Tesco employees are to scoop up share bonuses worth a total of &pound;98m, it was revealed yesterday, after the giant retailer posted record annual results.<br /><br />Under the group&rsquo;s &ldquo;Share in Success&rdquo; scheme, checkout workers to store managers that have worked with the supermarket for at least a year by the end of February are eligible for the free shares, offering 3.6 per cent of salary, up to a maximum of &pound;3,000.<br /><br />Shares are held in a trust for five years and then may be sold by employees on a tax-free basis.<br /><br />About 66,000 Tesco staff who have held shares in the scheme since 2004 also became eligible yesterday to sell, on a tax-free basis, the &pound;37m worth of stock they were awarded five years ago.<br /><br />Britain&rsquo;s biggest private sector employer handed out yesterday&rsquo;s record bonus payout on top of the &pound;238m paid last year to management and and staff through incentive and share schemes.<br /><br />Despite taking a seven per cent pay cut last year, chief executive Sir Terry Leahy still collected more than &pound;5m in salary and bonuses, according to the group&rsquo;s annual report published yesterday.<br /><br />Leahy&rsquo;s base salary rose from &pound;1.29m to &pound;1.36m, but his total bonuses declined from &pound;4.1m to &pound;3.7m as he received only 45 per cent of his long-term share bonus. The rest is dependent on Tesco&rsquo;s stuggling US business.<br /><br />As Tesco&rsquo;s profits climbed above the &pound;3bn mark for the first time Leahy&rsquo;s remuneration came down by &pound;370,000 to &pound;5.1m.<br /><br />Tesco said senior staff packages were hit by performance at its fledgling US division, Fresh &amp; Easy, where expansion has been hampered by a poor range of prodcuts, the recession and a consumer spending slump.<br /><br />The group also experienced a tough year in the UK with like-for-like sales up three per cent &ndash; a performance that lagged behind rivals WM Morrison and J Sainsbury, which saw full year sales rise 7.9 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.