Frankie & Benny’s and Next bosses are under fire for hefty bonuses after both companies received government support during coronavirus measures.
Next chief Simon Wolfson took home almost £4.4m last year, up 50 per cent on the year before, including an annual bonus worth 100 per cent of his basic salary.
Meanwhile, Andy Hornby, chief executive of the Restaurant Group, which owns brands like Wagamama and Chiquito, became the first chief exec since 2017 to receive a bonus.
Hornby was paid £1.2m, up from £518,000 a year before,
As reported by the Guardian, The Institutional Voting Information Service (IVIS) has given both firms a “red top” rating, which essentially urges shareholders to vote against chief exec pay.
The overarching concern is that both companies benefited from furlough pay for workers and business rates relief.
“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 according to report seen by the Guardian.
It is understood Next repaid £29m of business rates relief and has repaid all further support taken when shops were reopened.
The group’s remuneration committee added that executive pay was “proportionate and aligned to business performance”.
Commenting on the Restaurant Group’s pay packets, IVIS said shareholders would “have to be satisfied that the bonus payouts for 2021 are commensurate with the experience of employees and other stakeholders”.
A spokesperson for the company told the Guardian: “The board is mindful of a range of external and internal factors when considering its approach to remuneration and regularly consults its shareholders on these matters.
“The business delivered a strong trading performance in 2021, following the reopening of its sites. However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the receipt of significant government support, the remuneration committee felt it appropriate to reduce executive directors’ bonuses by 40%. During the pandemic, 2019 bonuses were voluntarily waived by directors and no bonuses at all were awarded in 2020. In addition, directors waived between 20% [and] 40% of their salaries through the pandemic for 12 months from March 2020.”