Tuesday 20 April 2021 8:20 pm

Next CEO Lord Simon Wolfson's pay jumps 28 per cent despite profit plunge, shut stores and furloughed staff

Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson pocketed a healthy annual pay rise last year despite overseeing a profit slump, no cash bonus, a raft of stores shuttered and staff placed on furlough as Covid-19 lockdowns ravaged the UK high street.

Wolfson’s annual pay rose to £3.4m, 28 per cent jump, thanks to a £2.4m long-term shares bonus.

Next’s share price has rebounded to be above its pre-Covid level, today closing at 7,794p per share.

The CEO’s raise in salary comes mostly off the back of the increased value of shares, with the board signing off on long-term share bonus payments to Wolfson relating to the three years to July 2020 and to January 2021.

There was no annual cash bonus for Wolfson last year and the CEO and other Next execs also took a 20 per cent cut in basic pay between April and June last year.

Wolfson’s base annual base salary also rose by 0.6 per cent to £824,000 in February, in line with the same raise made across the company.

For 2020 Next’s full price sales were down 15 per cent on 2019 and total sales fell 17  per cent. Profit before tax came in at £342m, down 54 per cent, but in line with January’s trading update. 

Next has been successful in pivoting to online sales to try and plug the gap as its high street outlets remained closed for months on end last year and into 2021.

The retail bellwether also benefitted from claiming close to £120m in a business rates holiday and millions in furlough payments for thousands of staff unable to work in-store during the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown.