Simon Roberts, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, landed a £3.8 million ($4.8m) pay and bonus package as the supermarket chain faces anger over big payouts to investors while customers struggle in the cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Roberts picked up £2.8m ($3.5m) in bonuses for the year to March 5, on top of his annual salary of £875,000 and other benefits, the supermarket’s annual report shows.
His pay deal includes a £1.7m annual bonus and £1.1m in long-term incentive scheme shares.
It marks a hefty rise on the previous year, when he earned £1.3m, although he started in the role part-way into 2020-2021, having taken over from former boss Mike Coupe in June 2020.
Last year, Mr Roberts, formerly the group’s head of retail and operations, waived his £1m annual bonus because of the pandemic.
Sainsbury’s said his pay for 2020-2021 would have been £2.9m on a like-for-like basis had he not forgone his bonus.
The pay details come as the group is already in the line of fire after announcing a big rise in dividend payouts to shareholders while customers are struggling to make ends meet due to soaring costs.
Investors, many of whom are foreign, are soon to share £300m of dividends, up 24 per cent on 2021 and the largest since 2015.
The High Pay Centre has been reported criticising Sainsbury’s for the decision and urged businesses to “do the right thing by shareholders, customers and workers”.
There has also been pressure on Sainsbury’s over pay and investors will get to vote next month on a resolution filed by a coalition of shareholders led by ShareAction, calling for the chain to pay the “real living wage” to all its workers by July 2023.
Since May, Sainsbury’s has been paying the real living wage rates to all its directly employed staff.
It was one of the first major retailers to do so, but it does not yet for third-party contractors such as cleaners and security guards.
Sainsbury’s also last week pledged to invest more than £500m into cutting prices for customers by March 2023 as part of a long-term plan focused on value.
But Mr Roberts’s pay details will probably stoke more criticism as the sector is pressed to do all it can to help cash-strapped households.
Iceland supermarket chain managing director Richard Walker recently said some of its customers are “disappearing into food banks” as they struggle to meet rising costs.
The Office for National Statistics has revealed food inflation grew by 6.8 per cent in April, on the back of sharp increases for meat and dairy products, while wider inflation has already reached 9 per cent.