In fashion it is commonly said that a designer is only as good as their last collection, and that there is always someone, somewhere, willing to do a lot more for a lot less in return. Christopher Bailey, who became Creative Director of Burberry in 2001, and was named Chief Executive Officer last October, is single-handedly proving the cynics wrong. Despite the fact that 53 per cent of shareholders voted against the company’s latest remuneration report, Bailey, 43, is set to become one of the wealthiest creative directors in the fashion industry. His latest pay package, including salary and stock options, is valued at up to £27 million.
Christopher Bailey’s pay package includes a £1.1 million base salary, a £440,000 annual allowance for an undisclosed purpose, and a one-off, performance-based grant of 500,000 shares, which is worth approximately £7 million in today’s market. Bailey also received 350,000 shares in 2010, and an additional one million shares in 2013 when he became CEO of the company, worth a combined £19 million. “The message to Burberry is loud and clear: multimillion-pound pay packages are obscene, unnecessary and will damage the economy in the long-term,” said Deborah Hargreaves, director of the High Pay Centre. “If those at the top are seen to grab such vast rewards while wages stagnate for everybody else, it completely undermines public faith in business.” Burberry Chairman Sir John Peace, however, defended the company’s generosity, citing Christopher Bailey’s aggressive push to the digital realm, and successful hauling and restructuring of brand licenses, as some of the key drivers to Burberry’s success. Moreover, he admitted that there have been many competing job offers coming Bailey’s way, and that to lose a CEO and creative director in one fell swoop would have been disastrous.