JD Group boss Peter Cowgill has received nearly £ 6million in bonuses since February last year, although the company has accepted more than £ 100million in government support.
The owner of JD Sports, Millets and Black Leisure, and a chain of overseas sportswear chains, has agreed to £ 86.1million in staff leave and relief estimated at £ 38million sterling business rates last year.
Cowgill voluntarily slashed his base salary – which fell to £ 700,000 – by 75% for several months during the pandemic. His annual bonus was also reduced from £ 1.7million to £ 1.3million.
However, the retail veteran cashed in £ 3million over the year from a special bonus, half of which was paid in February 2020; an additional £ 1.5million, which was originally due in October 2020, was paid in January this year.
It is understood that an additional £ 1.5million was paid a month later, in February of this year.
JD ended his fiscal year with almost £ 800million in the bank, with his profits bolstered by demand for bumper locks for sneakers and hoodies. Its profits topped £ 420million before one-off costs of sales which edged up during the year to £ 6.2 billion.
The retailer has previously been criticized for restarting dividend payments to shareholders while retaining government financial support in the event of a pandemic.
In April, after revealing she was paying £ 14million to shareholders, Labor MP and tax activist Margaret Hodge said emergency aid programs were meant to save businesses and “certainly not meant to pay out generous dividends ”.
When the bonuses paid to Cowgill were released, she added, “It’s taxpayers’ money and it’s not here to line the pockets of executives with millions of pounds.”
CFO Neil Greenhalgh received £ 871,000 in total salary for the year up to January, up from £ 853,000 a year earlier as he had collected almost £ 560,000 in bonuses.
Andrew Leslie, the head of JD’s compensation committee, said the bonuses “reflect the outstanding and sustained performance of the group.”
He added: “The publication of exceptional results in such a difficult climate demonstrates that the compensation approach and actions taken throughout the pandemic continue to support and drive this performance. ”
The company’s annual report, released Thursday, said the two executives’ compensation remained at the bottom of their peer group in the FTSE 100.
About 31% of shareholders voted against JD’s compensation report last year, and the compensation committee said it was responding to this shareholder protest by paying future long-term bonuses partly in shares.
JD said support for the pandemic has helped the company retain staff: the group now employs 22,336 people, 450 more than in February 2020.
The company said in a statement: “Government support has been accepted in places where it has been offered, with the primary aim of retaining the thousands of retail jobs that were at risk during the shutdown. extended store. This government support has served its purpose as the group has not made large-scale layoffs and the vast majority of jobs have been retained.
“In this context, the Board of Directors and the Compensation Committee decided that it was appropriate to restore the payment of dividends while returning to more normal compensation levels for members of management and members of the senior team. Compared to previous years, the Executive Chairman received a reduced bonus level this year.