The boss of retailer JD Group has defended receiving a multi-million pound bounty during the coronavirus pandemic at the same time as the company accepts more than £ 100million in government support.
Peter Cowgill, the executive chairman, has received nearly £ 6million in bonuses in the 12 months since February 2020, and admitted on Monday that investors could object to the payment at next month’s annual meeting . But he said he had only received one Long-Term Incentive Plan (LTIP) in eight years.
Glass Lewis, one of the world’s largest and most influential investor advisory services, has previously recommended shareholders vote against what he described as an “inappropriate compensation policy.”
JD Group, which owns JD Sports, Millets and Blacks as well as an overseas sportswear chain of chains, has received £ 61million in paid leave for staff and around £ 38million in relief commercial rates last year.
He refused to follow in the footsteps of other non-essential retailers, including clothing chain Primark, and return the money to the taxpayer despite criticism for his decision to resume paying dividends to shareholders.
Cowgill insisted his “lion’s share” of his bonus was before January 2019, and said LTIP was a “special arrangement”.
“I have only received one LTIP in eight years, during that period the profits went from £ 82million to £ 420million, but I only received one”, Cowgill said in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s World at One program.
The retail group had used the leave payments “to keep the job,” Cowgill said, adding that the company had not laid off any staff during the pandemic.
Cowgill said investors in JD Sports “may well” vote against the company’s compensation policy, but asked:
“I’ve been in the business for a very long time, so I think investors need to support this because of the company’s track record, which is second to none,” he said.
According to the JD Group annual report, Cowgill voluntarily slashed his base salary by 75% for several months during Covid-19, reducing it to £ 700,000, while his annual bonus was lowered from £ 1.7million to 1.3 million pounds.
However, the retail veteran took in £ 3million over the year thanks to a special bonus, half of which was paid in February 2020, and an additional £ 1.5million in January 2021. Furthermore, it is understood that an additional £ 1.5million was paid only one month later.
The first year of the pandemic has paid off for the sportswear group as it benefited from foreclosure demand for loungewear and sneakers, and it reported one-time pre-tax pre-tax profits of $ 421 million. sterling on sales of £ 6.2 billion as of January 30. 2021.
This is the latest dispute over executive payments during the pandemic. Last week, 70% of the votes cast were against the Morrisons supermarket group’s compensation report.
There have also been protests against the salaries of realtors Savills, rival Foxtons, Cineworld and AstraZeneca.