Tuesday 26 May 2009 8:00 pm

Staff cash in after record Tesco profits

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MORE than 207,000 Tesco employees are to scoop up share bonuses worth a total of £98m, it was revealed yesterday, after the giant retailer posted record annual results.

Under the group’s “Share in Success” 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 £3,000.

Shares are held in a trust for five years and then may be sold by employees on a tax-free basis.

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 £37m worth of stock they were awarded five years ago.

Britain’s biggest private sector employer handed out yesterday’s record bonus payout on top of the £238m paid last year to management and and staff through incentive and share schemes.

Despite taking a seven per cent pay cut last year, chief executive Sir Terry Leahy still collected more than £5m in salary and bonuses, according to the group’s annual report published yesterday.

Leahy’s base salary rose from £1.29m to £1.36m, but his total bonuses declined from £4.1m to £3.7m as he received only 45 per cent of his long-term share bonus. The rest is dependent on Tesco’s stuggling US business.

As Tesco’s profits climbed above the £3bn mark for the first time Leahy’s remuneration came down by £370,000 to £5.1m.

Tesco said senior staff packages were hit by performance at its fledgling US division, Fresh & Easy, where expansion has been hampered by a poor range of prodcuts, the recession and a consumer spending slump.

The group also experienced a tough year in the UK with like-for-like sales up three per cent – 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.