Woolworths’ shareholders might take comfort from knowing that none of the group’s executive directors or senior executives received performance bonuses for last year — one of the worst in the group’s history. It was a year in which the board was forced to take a hefty R7bn writedown of the struggling Australian subsidiary David Jones, and report a 13% drop in adjusted headline earnings. Shareholders looked on as the share price drifted from R62 to R55 during the year. After the release of the results for the year to June, the share has slid to R47.55 — less than half the peak it reached after the 2015 purchase of the Australian department store for R21.5bn.

Despite the absence of 2018 bonuses, CEO Ian Moir, who drove the ill-fated Australian acquisition, still managed to pick up total remuneration of R30.5m. His total guaranteed pay of R19m was lifted by the vesting of shares that had been awarded in terms of previous years’ performances. There was also R4.5m of dividend payme...

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