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Charron Reaps Sharp Pay Hike

Paul Charron, Liz Claiborne’s chairman and ceo, had a 42.8 percent pay increase to $4.3 million, while his bonus nearly doubled to $1.9 million.

NEW YORK — Paul Charron’s pay rose more than his company’s stock last year, and the stock did just fine.

The Liz Claiborne Inc. chairman and chief executive enjoyed a 42.8 percent increase in his pay last year to $4.3 million, according to the firm’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That’s a $1.3 million raise from the $3 million he made in 2001, before restricted stock awards valued at $2.2 million. In 2000, he pulled in a total $3.1 million.

Charron’s salary last year rose 3.4 percent to $1.2 million while the big rise came in the executive’s bonus, which at $1.9 million tallied a 99 percent upswing.

Shareholders apparently got some bang for their buck, though. Over the fiscal year ended Dec. 28, the firm’s stock jumped about 18 percent while the Standard & Poor’s 500 sank 24.6 percent.

The increased stock price does more for Charron than improve his standing with investors, though. As of March 19, the ceo carried 1.1 million shares of Claiborne, or 1 percent of the outstanding common stock.

For the year, Claiborne’s net income rose 20.4 percent to $231.2 million, or $2.16 a diluted share, from $192.1 million, or $1.83, last year. Sales ascended 7.8 percent to $ 3.72 billion from $ 3.45 billion.

Charron ranked 11th in WWD’s listing of the top apparel manufacturers’ salaries for 2001. While last year’s boost in compensation bodes well for his position among the most highly paid in 2002, he still has a long way to go to top of the hill. Tommy Hilfiger took that spot in 2001 with compensation of $24.9 million.

For 2002, as reported, Levi Strauss & Co. ceo Phil Marineau has already topped Hilfiger’s prior-year number with a $25.1 million paycheck, almost 15 times what he earned in 2001.

Any executives wishing to don the compensation crown in the future should consider a contract that links compensation to sales. Hilfiger beat out the pack in 2001 with an annual salary of $900,000 plus 1.5 percent of the net sales of TH USA and its subsidiaries over $48.4 million.

Number two on the 2001 list was Hilfiger ceo Joel Horowitz with compensation of $12.7 million. Rounding out the top three was Ralph Lauren with $6.6 million.