Whitbread pulls out the stops to make new boss's move worthwhile

In The Spotlight: Andy Harrison
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The Independent Online

Andy Harrison, soon to be the chief executive of Whitbread, is used to seeing his name associated with big money, and his forthcoming stint at the leisure group does not look likely to buck the trend.

Whitbread's annual report reveals that Mr Harrison will receive a salary of £700,000, plus a long-term incentive plan offering shares worth the equivalent of £1.2m. Then there's a £1m share purchase matching scheme – and we haven't even started talking bonuses, which are not revealed in the report.

Not that the new man is in need of the money. He is already sitting pretty with the £1.2m special bonus paid by easyJet, his current employer, last year. The cash was an effort to retain Mr Harrison when it seemed he might take up a new role elsewhere. Keep him it did, but only for four months or so before Whitbread came calling.

Mr Harrison has also cashed in £1.3m of easyJet shares recently – it is understood the sale was connected to his divorce. And there is another £5m he is thought to have made from management buyout of the RAC a few years age.

With employers queuing up to pay him so well, one can safely assume Mr Harrison is hot stuff. Whitbread thinks so, and the former management consultant has plenty of supporters. But not everyone agrees – most notably Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The easyJet founder has a large stake in the budget airline but disagrees with its strategy, and he has been briefing anyone who will listen that his fellow shareholders are well shot of their chief executive. There have been other foes too – such as the environmental journalist George Monbiot. Check out the car crash TV on YouTube.