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Build-A-Bear CEO earns $2.6 million for 2019, takes pay cut in 2020

Build-A-Bear CEO earns $2.6 million for 2019, takes pay cut in 2020

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Build-A-Bear Workshop paid Chief Executive Sharon John $2.6 million last year, but she's taken a salary cut this year and will receive her bonus several months late.

John's 2019 compensation, disclosed Friday in a proxy statement, was a 23% increase over the previous year. Build-A-Bear posted a $261,000 profit for the fiscal year, which ended Feb. 1, after losing $17.9 million in 2018.

John's $847,518 bonus for 2019 was 119% of the target amount. It normally would have been paid in April, but the company is delaying bonuses until as late as December as it copes with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, Build-A-Bear closed all of its stores and furloughed 90% of its employees.

Build-A-Bear also announced last month that its CEO and other top executives have taken 20% salary cuts. John's salary was $714,000 last year.

In addition, board members won't receive their cash retainers, which were $50,000 apiece with additional amounts for committee chairs. Build-A-Bear is among at least six St. Louis companies that have cut top executives' pay  during the pandemic.

John received stock awards last year valued at $1.07 million, half of which will depend on the company's performance through 2021. A similar award from 2017 paid out just 67% of the target number of shares.

The proxy statement discloses that in April, at the same time her salary was cut 20%, John received 70,000 additional shares, which would be worth about $160,000.

Build-A-Bear's pay practices got only 61% shareholder approval last year, which is far below average. The company said shareholders want it to move toward more stock-based compensation and use additional metrics, besides profitability, in its bonus plan.

Here's what other St. Louis CEOs earned in 2019:

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Related to this story

Sonic is one of six U.S. companies identified in a Reuters review of regulatory filings that have moved to shield their executives' compensation from the pandemic's economic fallout as they laid off or furloughed workers. The others include St. Louis-based plush toy seller Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc.

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