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Tesco has come under fire for paying its chief executive £4.75million last year, including the supermarket’s highest annual bonus since 2016, as families grapple with rising food costs.

Ken Murphy’s package included a £3.21m bonus while chief financial officer Imran Nawaz won a £1.24m bonus – taking his total to £5.4m for the year, including a £3.5m ‘golden hello’ to the bonuses he lost. leaving his former employer, Tate & Lyle.

The payments came as Tesco’s pre-tax profits more than doubled after pandemic restrictions were eased.

Murphy, who joined the UK’s biggest supermarket chain in October 2020, could earn up to £10.7m this year, if he hits certain performance targets.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Tesco workers and customers will be stunned by these pay levels as they struggle to keep food on the table in the cost of living crisis.

“Wage inequality has gone far too far. A Tesco customer assistant would have to work for 267 years to get what the Tesco boss was paid for just one year. It’s time we had maximum pay ratios to bring back some fairness.

Andrew Speke of the High Pay Center said the executives’ big payouts would not be welcomed by Tesco staff and customers.

“One of Britain’s best-known companies to give its top dog such a wage package amid the cost of living crisis will not sit well with Tesco workers or its customers. Tesco should spend that money to raise the wages of its workers to protect their standard of living against rising inflation and to keep its food prices as low as possible, to ensure that its loyal customers can always afford to do so their purchases as food prices soar.”

The details of the payments come amid high food inflation driven by rising energy and commodity costs, in part due to the war in Ukraine.

Tesco chairman John Allan said earlier this week that the UK was facing “true food poverty for the first time in a generation”.

Allan said some supermarket customers were asking staff to stop putting groceries in the till once they had reached a certain total, leaving some items behind as they rationed food spending.

He argued there was a “damning case” for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help those suffering the most from the cost of living crisis.

Tesco doubled its pre-tax profits to more than £2billion last year but warned of this year’s profits as it faces a battle to ‘contain the cost of the weekly shop’ .

Steve Golsby, head of Tesco’s compensation committee, said he was satisfied that the bonus payouts were “appropriate and reflect performance over the respective performance periods.”

“We achieved this solid performance in a context of major changes in the distribution sector. Customers are faced with an increasing range of choices about where, how and when to shop, with the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating a number of profound shifts in consumer behaviors. Our executive directors have weathered this period of uncertainty successfully, as evidenced by their performance this year,” he said.

Murphy and Nawaz’s salary is dwarfed by a total of £10.5m paid to former Tesco chief financial officer Alan Stewart over the past year, including £8.58m from the collection of stock awards linked to the historical performance of the company which matured upon its exit. £1.95m salary.

Former chief executive Dave Lewis is also continuing to benefit from his time at Tesco with £1.89million from a deferred bonus and share award paid out last summer.

This year, Murphy will be able to collect a bonus even if Tesco falls short of its profit ambitions after a change in company rules. However, its full payment will depend on reducing food waste, increasing diversity and reducing the retailer’s carbon footprint for the first time.

Last month Tesco announced it would pay around £50m in ‘thank you’ bonuses to workers in stores, warehouses and customer contact centers and it recently pledged to invest £200m to increase its rate of pay for shop staff by 5.8%. a minimum of £10.10 from July 24.

However, the supermarket has been criticized for removing the right to extra sick pay for people with Covid from this month.

Several CEOs of companies hard hit by the pandemic have received bonuses for 2021.

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Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain, announced this week that chief executive Alison Brittain’s salary had doubled year-on-year to £2.2million for 2021, including a £1 million bonus.

The 2021 bonus was paid as the company’s stock value barely increased in 2021.

On Friday, Whitbread’s share price remained a third below pre-pandemic levels. Brittain also waived a £729,000 bonus that had been deferred from 2020 to avoid a backlash after Whitbread agreed to hundreds of millions of pounds in government aid in the form of furlough payments and tariff relief professionals.

Whitbread declined to comment.

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