Bunhill: Head of Boots collects it all

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The Independent Online
BOOTS, the squeaky-clean retail and pharmaceuticals group, has been busy briefing investors on future strategy and its new long-term executive bonus scheme, which is supposed to spur directors to ever-greater efforts on behalf of shareholders.

I suspect it has had less to say about the old executive bonus scheme, which continues in parallel with the new one. Under this 'performance- related' plan, Sir James Blyth, chief executive, can earn anything between zero and pounds 145,000 (35 per cent of his pounds 415,000 base salary).

For 1992-3 he's just been awarded - you've guessed it - pounds 145,000. He also got two other bonuses worth pounds 50,000, plus pounds 10,000 of other benefits and a pounds 193,000 contribution to his pension.

In total, Sir James - who chairs the advisory panel on the Citizen's Charter, John Major's plan to uphold the rights of the common man - got a decidedly uncommon pounds 813,000.

You might think Boots must be performing outstandingly. True, the core chemist chain continues to churn out profits, and the Halfords car parts business has improved. Group earnings grew by 7 per cent.

But Do It All, the DIY chain, is haemorrhaging cash and profits from the Fads decorating shops are falling. The Children's World shops haven't made a penny profit in the five years since they were set up.

Sephora, the French beauty business, does no more than break even.

The drugs division has made its smallest contribution for four years, and there are fears Manoplax may prove a flop.

Boots has spent pounds 120m developing the new heart drug, which is marvellous at relieving breathlessness . . . but in larger doses can have the unfortunate side-effect of hastening death.

THERE are many carriages in the boardroom gravy train. The Pullman car marked 'compensation for loss of office' may be the most luxurious. But 'relocation and related expenses' gives a remarkably comfortable ride.

Some executives manage to persuade their employers to compensate them for the declining value of their homes when they are asked to move house. Never mind that their new neighbourhood has probably been subject to the same price decline, so they suffer no net effect.

Two years ago HTV, the broadcaster for Wales and the West Country, considered Charles Romaine so important that it gave him pounds 118,000 of relocation payments to move from Wokingham to be the new chief executive.

Unfortunate, then, that last month it decided to sack him and is now in negotiations to pay him compensation for loss of office. His three-year rolling contract entitles him to up to pounds 375,000.

Now comes word that Drummond Hall, a director of Dairy Crest, the cheese-making and milk-delivery firm, has been given pounds 47,000 because of the declining value of his former home in Herefordshire.

Will Dairy Crest ask for some of the money back if Hall's new home in Walton-on- Thames starts to appreciate in value, I wonder?