Now, around 2,000 staff who have worked for the chain for more than two years are apparently in line for 125p shares worth 75% of their salary. Add that to the bonus of 25% of salary they picked up last year, and the package adds up to around £44k. That’s pretty much enough to buy 44,000 items from Sports Direct.
The good news is there’s clearly value in being in discount fashion retail when everyone’s feeling the squeeze: profit at the chain, which boasts almost 400 shops, is expected to hit £205m in the year to the end of April. That’s up 20% on the year before. And if Ashley can pull off the tricky act of mirroring that success in his new, albeit highly unfamiliar territory, that story may soon have another chapter.
Staff will have to wait until July 2012 before they can begin cashing in their shares, but we can’t imagine they’re too worried about that. They’ll be happy to be playing for a team where they get such perks – better even than at John Lewis, whose cherished ‘partners’ score only 18% of their salary in their bonuses. Ashley must be happy too. He introduced the generous terms to boost performance - and his players seem to have stepped up to the mark. Has he not thought of doing this for Newcastle too?