Mulcahy joins the elite who earn pounds 1m a year

Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, chief executive of retail conglomerate Kingfisher, has rejoined the elite list of Britain's industrialists earning in excess of pounds 1m a year.

The boss of the Comet electrical wholesaler and B&Q do-it-yourself chain saw his overall remuneration rise to pounds 1.26m, a 26 per cent increase last year compared with 1995.

This figure puts Sir Geoffrey on a par with Sir Richard Sykes, deputy chairman and chief executive of the Glaxo Wellcome pharmaceuticals group, and Peter George, chief executive of the Ladbroke hotels and betting shops company. Last year, Sir Richard earned a total remuneration package of pounds 1.127m; Mr George received pounds 1.28m.

Sir Geoffrey's total package was boosted by a bonus of pounds 325,000, relating to Kingfisher's financial performance. The group saw pre-exceptional profits rise 36 per cent to pounds 390m last year, ahead of City forecasts.

The second best-paid executive at Kingfisher was Jim Hodkinson, chairman of the group's DIY division.

He earned a basic salary of pounds 305,000, which, with bonuses, climbed to an annual total of pounds 588,000 - a 68 per cent rise on the pounds 350,000 he made in the previous 12 months.

Back in 1994 Sir Geoffrey did even better than 1996. He earned pounds 1.4m in total but this time round his benefits, besides the usual company car and medical insurance, included personal tax advice.

The Kingfisher group refused to discuss the pay issue yesterday. A company spokeswoman said: "We do not make any comment on salaries which are all agreed by the company's remuneration committee."

And new figures from research group Pirc suggest Sir Geoffrey's remuneration package is generally out of line with the size of company he represents. While his basic salary of pounds 640,000 is ranked 14th-largest in Britain, Kingfisher itself is ranked by capitalisation as the 49th-biggest in the UK.

Pirc admits that the size of a company is only one of several elements to be taken into account with executive salaries. But it believes that there should usually be a close link between the two.

Yet its research shows that there is often a wide disparity in Britain. It says the highest-paid executive at EMI gets pounds 1.9m and yet the company has a market capitalisation of pounds 5.2bn, ranking it 41st by size.

By contrast, another of Britain's largest groups, British Petroleum, pays its top executive a relatively meagre pounds 370,000 a year, ranking him at number 72 in the top personal pay table, says Pirc.

Similarly, the top executive of Shell, the oil company in the top four by market capitalisation at pounds 35.6bn, is paid pounds 510,776. This is ranked 28th in the PIRC pay scales.