Retail chiefs escape 'fat cat' pay rumpus

Retail chief executives have sidestepped potential 'fat cat' accusations with the revelation that pay is in line with performance.

The findings come in a week in which executive pay has shot up the corporate agenda.

However, retail chief executives, in non-food, recently received a median salary rise of 8 per cent to£312,000, against a median profit rise of 13 per cent.

Marcus Peaker, chief executive of Halliwell Consulting which produced the findings based on companies' annual reports, said: 'Many salaries have gone up, but it's certainly not disproportionate to the performance increase.'

He said retail chief executives' bonuses increased by more than performance - up 26 per cent to an average of£96,875. But in part this reflected a move from share price-related towards profit-related schemes.

He said there were few comparisons to be made with companies such as GSK, where shareholders revolted at perceived payment for failure.

Selfridges chief executive Peter Williams defended retailers. 'When you look at base salaries the range is not unreasonable,' he said. 'Where the discrepancy lies (in businesses generally) is the nature of the bonus scheme and long-term incentives, where some seem to do better than others.'

Williams' bonus package depends on profit performance.

Topps Tiles chief executive Nick Ounstead agreed that poor results should not be rewarded but success should. 'It should be down to performance,' he said.

Britain's best rewarded retailers include Tesco's Sir Terry Leahy and Luc Vandevelde of Marks & Spencer.