Burberry to Slash CEO Bailey's Pay Amid Chinese Sales Slump

  • Bonuses, share payouts to be cut by up to 30 million pounds
  • Shares plunge as profit set to decline for second year

Christopher Bailey.

Photographer: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Burberry Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Christopher Bailey will get a pay cut along with other employees after the U.K. trenchcoat maker forecast a second year of declining profit because of weakness in Asia.

The company will cut bonuses and long-term share incentives by as much as 30 million pounds ($46.5 million), Chief Financial Officer Carol Fairweather said on a conference call Thursday. Burberry also plans to trim discretionary costs like travel by 20 million pounds this financial year in response to plummeting sales in China. The shares fell as much as 13 percent, the most since 2012.

Bailey, who was paid 7.9 million pounds last year, faces his biggest test in less than 18 months at the helm. While softening demand in China and Hong Kong has weighed on all luxury-goods makers, Burberry is in a weaker position than rivals like LVMH. The maker of 1,995-pound shearling trenchcoats gets more than 30 percent of revenue from Chinese consumers, yet only 2 percent from Japan, where many of them are shopping.

"Christopher Bailey’s honeymoon at Burberry is over," said Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in London.

Bailey’s pay for last year included a 1.78 million-pound bonus and 4.43 million pounds from a share-incentive plan, the annual report shows. That compares with a 10.3 million-pound package in the previous year, which shareholders rejected in a non-binding vote.

Bailey, 44, replaced Angela Ahrendts as CEO in May 2014, retaining his role as chief creative officer, which he’s held since 2009. Ahrendts more than doubled sales in almost eight years at the helm, before leaving to head retail at Apple Inc.

In the past six months, Burberry shares have fallen to below the level they were trading at when Bailey took the helm. Investors are now buying Burberry’s shares at a 27 percent discount to the U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index. Four years ago, those shares came at a 173 percent premium.

Burberry didn’t disclose the scale of individual pay cuts.

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