£3.4m farewell payout for WHSmith’s ex-CEO Stephen Clarke

WHSmith joins retailers renegotiating with landlords over rate payments
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// Former WHSmith CEO Stephen Clarke handed £3.4m farewell payout
// Clarke stepped down from his position at the end of October and was replaced by Carl Cowling
// Clarke’s pay package is 207x the average wage of a WHSmith employee

Former WHSmith boss Stephen Clarke has been given a £3.4 million farewell pay packet by the retailer for the past year after driving shares higher.

Clarke, who stepped down as chief executive at the end of October, saw his total pay for the year to August 31 jump by 18.6 per cent when compared to a £2.9 million deal in the previous financial year.

The retailer saw its value strengthen over the year as Clarke improved sales across the group by continuing the expansion of its successful travel division, or stores based at train stations or airports.


Since the start of 2019, shares in WHSmith have jumped 37 per cent to 2398p.

The overall pay-out means that Clarke will receive 207 times the average wage, based on a median figure, of a WHSmith employee.

His pay packet consisted of an annual salary of £568,000, up 3.2 per cent from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, his annual bonus rose by 10.7 per cent to £908,000.

The largest single component of his pay deal was the £1.78 million sum which Clarke received through long-term incentives, up 31.3 per cent from £1.36 million for same period a year earlier.

According to WhSmith’s latest annual report, Clarke also received the same rate of salary for his final two months at the books and stationery retailer.

Clarke was replaced as chief by retail veteran Carl Cowling at the start of November, who previously led WhSmith’s high street division.

According to the annual report, Cowling received a £1.4 million package during the year, as bonuses pushed him higher after receiving a base salary of £201,000.

Meanwhile, Robert Moorhead, WHSmith’s chief finance officer and chief operating officer, saw his pay deal rise by 19 per cent to £2.1 million.

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  1. I’m not sure that “given” is quite the correct word for what are presumably contractually-entitled earnings. It somehow suggests there was an ex gratia top-up for one of the chaps. If there’s one company where senior management have genuinely earned their large packages, it is probably WHS. If there was an ex gratia payment, that would be highly questionable.


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