Target, Kohl's paid execs biggest bucks

Don Hogsett, October 20, 2003

New York — For a second straight year, Target Stores chairman and ceo Robert Ulrich nailed down the top spot as the most highly compensated retailer in America, taking home a paycheck of $18.2 million, roughly 50 percent more than second-ranked Lawrence Montgomery, ceo of Kohl's, who took home $12.2 million.

Ulrich's rich 2002 compensation package — salary plus bonus plus stock options — gave him a pay raise of slightly more than 20 percent over his 2001 earnings of $15.1 million. And it was more than triple the $6.0 million he made in 2000, when he was ranked just 12th in the Home Textiles Today Executive Compensation Report, when he actually earned less, though not for long, than Art Stark or Steven Temares at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Ulrich's package made him substantially better paid than even the ceo of Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. Ulrich pulled down more than four times as much as Wal-Mart chief Lee Scott's $4.4 million.

Seen from another perspective, Ulrich earned more last year — by more than 30 percent — than the combined total of $13.8 million made by all 21 senior executives of public home textiles companies ranked this year. No doubt most skippers at the major mills would like to reverse-auction that statistic.

Still ranked near the top, as they have been in recent years, are the two co-founders of the fabulously successful superstore chain Bed Bath & Beyond, Leonard Feinstein and Warren Eisenberg, tied at third for last year, each taking home a total of $12.0 million, mostly in stock options.

Given the particularly rocky environment for full-price retailers over the past two years, it's no surprise that department store merchants don't figure high on the list, coming in no better than 11th place. What may surprise some is that the best paid department store retailer last year, thanks to stock options, was Drue Corbusier, executive vp of Dillard's, at $4.2 million. Thanks to $3.0 million in options, Corbusier beat out his own boss, ceo William Dillard, as well as chief executives at Penney, Federated, Kmart and Sears.

Underlining the importance of all those stock options — vastly more valuable than base pay or bonus for successful senior executives — options made up 93 percent of the total compensation for Eisenberg and Feinstein at Bed Bath & Beyond, for example. Each cashed in options worth $11.1 million, compared with a relatively skimpy salary of $883,000. Options made up 90 percent of the pay package — $11 million our of a total of $12.1 million — for Kohl's Montgomery; and 67 percent of Ulrich's package at Target, $12.2 million of a total of $18.2 million.

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