Will they ever learn?

Oct 04 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The beginning of the end for Sir Peter Davis' as chairman of Sainsbury's began – as far as the media was concerned – when the firm slashed its traditional staff bonus at the same time as approving a dubious 'performance–related' bonus scheme for its most senior executives

But it seems that another troubled retailer, WH Smith, may have failed to learn any lessons from the Sainsbury's shambles.

According to the Evening Standard, WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann has faced a deluge of complaints after she decided to halve staff discounts from 25 per cent to 12.5 per cent to reduce costs.

And lo and behold, the decision has coincided with the announcement of a lucrative incentive scheme for the company's executives that will earn 40 of them a slice of about £20m in shares in three years' time – and bring Swann herself a cool £4m if the retailer's fortunes pick up.

The Standard says that the move has sparked "an unprecedented backlash in the company."

'Morale was pretty bad to start with,' said one insider. 'Now it has hit rock bottom. Everyone has been writing furious letters, but we are being ignored.'

Perhaps realising that no amount of spin can put a positive gloss on this, the firm has refused to comment on the story.

Evening Standard | Staff revolt at WH Smith