Laura Ashley boss sitting on pounds 6m profit

Ann Iverson was paid nearly pounds 1m in her first year as chief executive of the retail group Laura Ashley. The American high flyer, who joined the struggling clothing and home furnishings group last July, is also sitting on potential profits of pounds 5.7m on share options granted on her arrival.

The details are included in Laura Ashley's annual report, published yesterday and decorated complete with the company's trademark floral print.

Jim Walsh, the American finance director who joined the company last year, was paid a total of pounds 390,000 including a pounds 100,000 "signing on" bonus. He also has share options which are worth a potential pounds 1.2m.

The share options cannot be exercised before 1998 and depend on various performance criteria such as share price and earnings growth being met.

Commenting on Ms Iverson's remuneration a Laura Ashley spokeswoman said: "The package is very heavily performance-related. In the short time Ann has been with the company the share price has improved dramatically. She has already created a lot of value for shareholders in the short time she has been here."

Ms Iverson's total pay, including pensions contributions was pounds 934,000. The basic salary between July and the company's financial year-end in January was pounds 254,000. She also received bonuses of pounds 549,000. These included a pounds 350,000 "golden hello" for joining the company, a pounds 118,000 "annual bonus" and a pounds 81,000 "discretionary bonus".

She was also paid pounds 50,000 to cover costs incurred in re-locating from America.

In addition to basic pay and bonuses, Ms Iverson was awarded 5.57 million share options priced at pounds 1.09p. On the current share price of 212p the potential profit is pounds 5.7m.

The options were awarded in three tranches with various performance criteria attached such as a higher share price, a meaningful dividend payment and certain pre-tax profits.

Ms Iverson, who helped turn around the fortunes of Mothercare for the Storehouse group, has made wholesale changes at Laura Ashley since her high-profile appointment last July. She has conducted a boardroom clear- out which saw Americans take the top three positions within the company. Jim Walsh joined as finance director. John Thornton, a big-hitting partner at merchant bank Goldman Sachs, was recently appointed chairman.

The shares stood at just 82p in June compared with yesterday's closing price of 212p.

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