"Hey Mr Taxpayer, spare any change?"
The Ince Group claimed £1.5 million in UK government furlough payments in the last financial year, while awarding its Chief Executive a £500k bonus.
Ince's annual report revealed that in the 2020/21 financial year it went cap in hand to the UK government, claiming £1.5 million in furlough money. On top of this, the listed firm also received another £600,000 from similar furlough schemes in Singapore and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the company paid a one-off bonus "directly linked to share price performance" of £500,000 to its Chief Executive Adrian Biles.
“The global pandemic placed constraints on the business, and we used government job retention schemes to protect jobs and support colleagues throughout that difficult period," a spokesman for Ince told RollOnFriday. "The money obtained from the furlough scheme was used as intended by HMRC.” The spokesman did not respond when asked if Ince would be paying back the money from the furlough scheme.
While Ince was happy to take up the generosity of UK tax payers, it was in a giving mood when it came to its Chief Executive. The listed firm paid Biles an additional bonus of £500,000, on top of his annual salary of £70,000 and a performance-related payment of £366,000.
“Over the last 12-months, we’ve actioned a range of measures that have stabilised the business’s overall performance, delivered double digit growth in EMEA and Asia, improved cash generation and strengthened the Group’s global offering," a spokesman for Ince said of the company's performance. "The share price subsequently rose over 300% during the 2020/21 financial year. As a result, Adrian Biles was awarded a pre-agreed one-off short-term incentive.”
Lots of other firms have reimbursed the government's furlough payments after their financial performances exceeded expectations, including Norton Rose Fulbright, DLA Piper, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Osborne Clarke, Irwin Mitchell and Eversheds Sutherland. Some, like Clifford Chance, never claimed any money in the first place. And Reed Smith agreed to repay furlough cash after a public shaming.
Ince's annual statement also revealed that cutting 47 staff roles resulted in a saving of £1.2 million. The listed firm also deferred various payments due to the pandemic, including tax owed to the Treasury, with a total outstanding sum of £5.8 million as at the end of March this year. Revenue at the Ince Group rose from £96.3 million to £100.2 million, but operating profits dropped from £7.6 million to £3 million.
The Ince Group was set up after Ince & Co was purchased by listed Gordon Dadds after the shipping firm was placed into administration at the end of 2018. Gordon Dadds had to defend the acquisition at the time, as it was criticised for acquiring Ince & Co in a pre-pack administration deal, under which it left behind Ince & Co's debts and most of its international network.
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