Who is Lord Wolfson, Next boss who gave away bonus?

Apr 17, 2013

It isn't the first charitable act for Tory-supporting CEO married to 'Kate Middleton lookalike'

Getty Images

WHO IS Lord (Simon) Wolfson, the businessman who yesterday waived his £2.4 million bonus, choosing instead to distribute it to his staff?

The publicity-shy 45-year-old became chief executive of Next in 2001 when he was just 33, ten years after joining the company as a sales consultant.

His decision to share the bonus with 19,400 of his employees is not the Conservative peer's first display of generosity. As a member of the Wolfson business dynasty (his father David was once chairman of Next), he is also a trustee of the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust, a grant-making body set up by his grandfather. The Trust helps fund several charities, including the Meningitis Research Foundation and the National Osteoporosis Society.

In 2012 Wolfson offered a £250,000 prize to the person who could come up with the best plan to handle a country exiting the euro, the BBC notes.

The Tory donor, who was made a peer in July 2010, last year married Eleanor Shawcross, an aide to George Osborne described by the Daily Mail as a "Kate Middleton look-a-like".

The couple won't go hungry, despite Wolfson's decision to sacrifice his bonus. The Daily Telegraph notes that his pay package without it is £4.6 million. The £2.4 million will be shared by Next employees who have been with the company since 2010. They will receive a payout equal to 1 per cent of their salary, meaning a shopfloor worker earning £20,000 a year will collect £200.

Wolfson, whose generosity could put pressure on other chief executives, told his staff the bonus is a "gesture of thanks and appreciation from the company for the hard work and commitment you have given to Next over the past three years and through some very tough times".

Sign up for our daily newsletter