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Caleres adjusts bonus plan for pandemic, but CEO's pay falls by half

Caleres adjusts bonus plan for pandemic, but CEO's pay falls by half

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Diane Sullivan, chairman, CEO and president of Caleres

Diane Sullivan, Chairman, CEO and president of Caleres.

Caleres lost $439 million last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it feared the lack of bonuses might leave executives unmotivated. When it was clear that their original bonus targets were unreachable, the compensation committee set a new short-term target based on earnings in the second half of the fiscal year.

The Clayton-based shoe company beat that goal and executives earned 20% of their original target bonuses, including a $360,000 payout for Chief Executive Diane Sullivan.

Caleres' proxy statement, filed Friday, explains that the bonus modification was done "in order to motivate and retain our valuable talent that would be critical to driving our recovery from the pandemic crisis."

Even with the bonus, Sullivan's total pay fell 57% last year to $2.9 million.

She and other executives took a 20% salary cut from April to August; Sullivan's salary totaled $1.08 million for the year. She also got $1.2 million worth of stock and a $216,379 increase in pension value.

CEO PAY IN A RECESSION: The average St. Louis CEO made roughly $7 million last year. With shareholders and workers suffering through a pandemic-induced recession, David Nicklaus and Jim Gallagher debate how much the big boss's pay should be reduced.

See the 25 top-paid CEOs

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Her perquisites included $25,000 worth of financial planning services and $49,594 of personal flights on company aircraft.

In addition to modifying the bonus plan, Caleres made a change to executives' long-term stock awards as a result of the pandemic. Performance-based awards, granted last March, were supposed to reward the achievement of three-year earnings goals.

When the pandemic hit, the proxy statement says, it became clear that the incentive plan "would not serve its intended retentive and motivational purposes and that forecasting multi-year, long-term business results was not practical." The compensation committee changed the performance calculation to exclude the first half of fiscal 2020.

Executives' long-term performance awards from 2018, however, expired worthless because the goals were not met. Sullivan's 2018 performance award had a target value of $2.9 million.

Sullivan earned 125 times as much as the median Caleres employee. The company calculated median pay of $23,525 for its 11,379 workers, about 40% of whom are part-time.

Here's what St. Louis CEOs made in 2019:

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