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Does the man who saved Burberry from the chavs deserve £20 million?

22 July 2014

10:00 AM

22 July 2014

10:00 AM

There isn’t a single item of Burberry in my wardrobe, I’m afraid, so I was unaware until this week of the fashion genius that is the firm’s chief executive Christopher Bailey, whose £20 million pay deal received a thumbs-down from 53 per cent of shareholders at last week’s AGM. The vote was not binding on the board, however, so Bailey — the Halifax-born carpenter’s son who, I now know, reinvented the trench coat and rescued the classic Burberry check from the chavs who adopted it a decade ago — will get his giant share award anyway. But does he really deserve it?

Though there have been surprisingly few shareholder votes against top executives’ pay (only six in FTSE100 companies since 2002), the current mood is — rightly — for tighter scrutiny, and against excess. In Bailey’s case, we’re reminded that Burberry is a genuinely global brand, that his award was in response to ‘competing job offers’, and that his unique creative work makes him a valuable asset rather than merely a manager — to be compared with Apple designer Sir Jony Ive. But does that really add up to £20 million? And more to the point, what sort of half-baked governance system leaves a majority vote of a company’s owners ‘non-binding’ on the directors who work for them?

This is an extract from an article that first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 

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  • bugshead

    He looks a bit chavvie to me

  • Diggery Whiggery

    “And more to the point, what sort of half-baked governance system leaves a majority vote of a company’s owners ‘non-binding’ on the directors who work for them?”

    One that was once owned by GUS who had a chairman based on hereditary privilege for the 60 years following WWII.

    Shareholders were there only as a source of finance and nothing more. They had to understand that in return for the privilege of GUS taking their money they had to keep there noses out of the company’s affairs.

  • Colonel Mustard

    I see that Barking Mad is today’s duty monitor for Socialist Propagandists Anonymous at the EU.

  • Emulous

    How much is the supermodel?
    More than £20 million I would warrant.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Don’t we just all love capitalism?
    I have got loads of *Thomas* Burberry in my wardrobe – all vintage, no fakes. It set me back less than I would have spent on a bank-holiday weekend at George Walmart.
    That’s what I love about capitalism: failure.

    • HookesLaw

      I like capitalism because I like watching others try for success instead on being shackled by the straightjacket of socialism.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Socialism doesn’t work, as a sovereign wealth fund holding Norway proves time and time again.
        Ever been clothes shopping in Oslo or Larvik? Try it and you will agree with me.

  • Ricky Strong

    He single handedly transformed the company from near failure to outright success, how often do you hear that these days.