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Taking stock: paychecks get lighter for retail execs

Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, May 14, 2001

NEW YORK — Last year was tough on American retailing, and not much better for retailing executives, many of whom saw their pay and bonuses shredded, along with their company's sales and profits, in a broad-based slowdown in consumer spending.

And there was lots of pain to go around, with better than half, 23 of 41 retail executives, taking a haircut in this year's HTT Retail Executive Compensation survey. While base pay was largely untouched, bonuses were cut or cancelled, long-term incentive pay didn't get paid at all and options were often unexercised — it just didn't pay to cash them in.

Hardest hit was the Target team. Not only were bonuses slashed, but not a nickel was paid in long-term incentive pay. Adding insult to injury, stock options cashed in were worth only half of what they were a year ago. All of which trimmed ceo Robert Ulrich's total compensation by about $7.4 million, or 55.4 percent, to $5.95 million from $13.3 million in 1999.

Sharing his pain were Federated execs; ceo James Zimmerman's pay was whittled down by 83.4 percent, to $1.4 million from $8.6 million last year. Also getting hit were members of the Little Rock, AR-based Dillard family, like patriarch Bill Dillard, whose take last year was pared by $1.3 million, or 64.8 percent, to $710,000, down from $2.0 million the prior year.

But for every frown there's a smile somewhere else, and the biggest grins and the biggest raises came out of Bed Bath & Beyond — more like Bed Bath & Bonanza last year for its four top execs. Thanks to stock options, co-ceo's Leonard Feinstein and Warren Eisenberg, along with merchandising chief Arthur Stark, boosted their payouts by more than 2,500 percent — Feinstein and Eisenberg each took home almost $20 million, while Stark pocketed $11.7 million. President Steven Temares more than tripled his payday, to $8.1 million.

A total of 56 retail execs at 17 major public retailers of home textiles products were canvassed for this year's ranking. But given the high turnover in the executive suite last year, and new players added to this 2000 scorecard, a year-over-year comparison is available for only 43.

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