Burberry chief executive Christopher Bailey has sold £5.2m of shares in the luxury fashion company, four months after taking over from predecessor Angela Ahrendts.
Bailey has offloaded 68,667 shares and nearly three quarters of two sets of performance related shares granted in 2011 and 2009 when he was the company's chief creative officer and which recently vested. It is understood that nearly half of the shares granted under the performance related schemes were sold to cover taxes. Of the remainder, half were retained and half were cashed out.
Bailey now owns 303,110 shares in the company worth £4.4m, 13% more than he owned prior to receiving the share awards.
The company said: "Christopher Bailey has exercised the option on a number of shares that he was awarded during his time as chief creative officer. As part of this process the number of Burberry shares he actually owns has increased. There are only certain times of the year when board members of a public company can sell shares which is why he is doing this now."
The sale comes at a sensitive time after shareholders last month slapped down the company for handing Bailey share awards worth £20m – which he will begin to receive from next year. At Burberry's annual shareholder meeting in London, 52.7% of investor votes opposed the brand's pay report which laid out details of the share awards to Bailey which had no performance targets attached.
He is also in line for a potential one-off performance-related award of shares worth £7.6m, set outas part of his pay deal on promotion in May – in addition to his £1m salary and potential £2m annual bonus.
Chairman John Peace said at the annual general meeting: "We know the amount paid to Christopher is a lot of money but much of it is performance-related and he will receive it only if Burberry performs strongly." Burberry argued last month that Bailey's pay is in line with other luxury-goods companies. Prada's Miuccia Prada reportedly earned £11.7m in 2013.
Asked at the AGM whether he would return some of the shares, Bailey said: "It's not about giving something up. It is not something I made the decision on, it is the remuneration committee and the chairman and the board."
Asked about the step up from chief creative officer to chief executive, he said: "I was never sitting there with a pencil drawing clothes. It's about having a vision and leading the team and ensuring consistency around the globe." Burberry, which dates back to 1856, has traditionally been known for its classic trench coats but has widened its appeal as a luxury brand using celebrity models such as Cara Delevingne and Emma Watson in its advertising campaigns.
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