Burberry stung by protest vote over Bravo contract

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The Independent Online

Burberry, the upmarket fashion house, received a rebuke over its generous pay packet for chief executive Rose Marie Bravoafter nearly a third of its minority shareholders voted down its report on directors' remuneration.

Overall the company, which is 77 per cent owned by its former parent GUS, saw 96 per cent of shareholders support its remuneration report at its AGM. The protest vote from a significant proportion of its free-floating investors came after the influential National Association of Pension Funds urged shareholders to block the "extraordinary" pay arrangements at Burberry.

Ms Bravo, who joined the company in 1997, could walk away with more than £12m if she lost her job thanks to a contract which does not expire until 2005, plus a share options plan which would pay out $15m (£10m). Included in the package, if Ms Bravo were forced to step down, is aprovision to pay for her moving costs back to her native America and an undertaking to cover US tax costs arising from her golden goodbye payout.

The NAPF said the arrangement for Ms Bravo, as well as the contract of Burberry's president Thomas O'Neill, were "extremely generous". The NAPF also criticised the fact that few of the incentive schemes both individuals are in were tied to demanding performance targets.

Burberry has made it clear that it does not intend to revise the terms of its contracts. The company has pointed out that the remuneration details Ms Bravo and others were entitled to were made public when GUS floated part of the company a year ago.

Under Ms Bravo's leadership the company's capitalisation has grown from £200m to more than £1.3bn.