Waterstone's fury as bonuses go

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The Independent Online
SHOP staff in the Waterstone's bookshops chain are furious with its parent, WH Smith, for reneging on a promised bonus scheme while awarding big pay rises to senior Smith's executives.

Smith's has scrapped an incentive scheme whereby staff in Waterstone's shops that beat their sales targets are rewarded with bonuses of up to 10 per cent of their base salaries.

Staff were told last Friday that the scheme was being retrospectively axed: their efforts over the previous four months of the scheme would count for nothing. Three days later, it emerged that WH Smith's managing director, Sir Malcolm Field, was given a pounds 117,000 pay rise to pounds 323,000, an increase of 57 per cent.

A spokesman for WH Smith confirmed the Waterstone's bonus scheme had been 'deferred at least for this financial year. It's extremely regrettable, the whole timing of the thing.'

Four months into the scheme for this financial year, 31 of the 90 shops are ahead of targets, according to an internal memo. However, WH Smith said staff

in only 12 shops would be affected.

For a sales assistant on a salary of pounds 6,854, the bonus is an important potential component of pay. 'We're devastated and so angry,' said one Waterstone's employee. 'Morale is going to plunge.'

This is the second time Smith's has gone back on promises to staff. It recently revoked a promised 3 per cent pay rise to the 15,000 employees in the core WH Smith chain, due this month, until February next year.

Total Smith's boardroom pay was lifted 72 per cent to pounds 1.8m in the year to 30 May. Pay for the chairman, Sir Simon Hornby, was lifted 44 per cent to pounds 261,000.

Jeremy Windust, the general secretary of the Retail Book Association trade union, said: 'We're urging the company to reconsider. An incentive scheme can very easily turn into a disincentive scheme if the rewards aren't delivered.'