Simon Wolfson

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The Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise
Simon Wolfson.jpg
Simon Adam Wolfson

(1967-10-27) 27 October 1967 (age 52)
London England[1]
EducationRadley College
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Simon Adam Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise (born 27 October 1967) is a British businessman and currently chief executive of the clothing retailer Next plc and a Conservative life peer. He is the son of former Next chairman David Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Sunningdale, also a Conservative life peer. His full title, as recorded in the House of Lords (which reserves the prefix "Right Honourable" for members of the Privy Council) is "The Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise".[2]

Family and education[edit]

Wolfson's great-grandfather, Solomon Wolfson, was a Polish cabinet-maker who settled in Glasgow and had nine children, one of whom was Sir Isaac Wolfson, Simon's great uncle, who made his fortune through Great Universal Stores.[3] Wolfson's father, David Wolfson, was chairman of Next and a Conservative life peer.[4]

Wolfson is the eldest of three siblings.[5] He attended Radley College, near Abingdon, followed by studying law at Trinity College, Cambridge.[6]

Business career[edit]

Wolfson joined Next as its most highly paid sales consultant ever, in its Kensington branch in 1991 for several weeks, the year his father was granted his peerage.[citation needed] The following year, he was taken on as assistant to Next's chief executive, David Jones.[7] Wolfson was elevated within the company rapidly, being appointed to the board of directors in 1997, culminating in his appointment as chief executive in August 2001 but leading at least one city analyst to make allegations of nepotism.[7] At the age of 33, this made him the youngest chief executive of a FTSE 100 company.[8] He was one of the first businesspeople to predict the 2008–9 economic crisis.[9]

Relationship with staff[edit]

In 2013, he waived his £2.4 million bonus and gave it to the staff of Next who had been with the company since 2010.[10] Wolfson earned £4.6m in 2013 at a time when the average pay of Next employees was £10,000. This led the GMB trade union supported by Paul Heaton to tour Next shops presenting anti-social behaviour awards to managers for their failure to provide a living wage.[11] In 2014, for a second successive year, Wolfson waived his bonus and distributed it among staff, sharing some £3.8m.[11] In May Retail Week reported that Next staff would be up to £1000 a year worse off after the company decided not to pay a premium for staff working on a Sunday. Those refusing a change of employment terms were allegedly told they risked being made redundant. The GMB union accused Wolfson of having a "total disregard for family life."[12] In April 2017, the salaries of some of Next's most senior staff were cut following a 3.8% fall in profits though Wolfson's salary was raised by 1%.[13]


Wolfson is focused on numbers, logic and reason.[14] He is wary of stories that are “anecdotally true but empirically false”.[15]

Political views[edit]

Wolfson is a prominent supporter of the Conservative Party, having donated to David Cameron's campaign in the 2005 leadership election and co-chaired the party's Economic Competitiveness policy review. He was named by The Daily Telegraph as the 37th-most important British conservative in 2007.[16] He was one of 35 signatories to an open letter calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to press ahead with the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term in the face of opposition.[17]

On 18 June 2010, Wolfson was created Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise, of Aspley Guise in the County of Bedfordshire,[18] and was introduced in the House of Lords on 6 July 2010.[19] As of March 2019; he has not attended the house since October 2018; has a less than average attendance record for the House, and has spoken in the House on only 3 occasions since his entering the House in 2010, well below average for the House.[20]

He voted loyally to the Conservatives in favour of working tax credit cuts in October 2015.

Views on Brexit[edit]

Wolfson has been described as the businessman most in favour of Brexit, calling for radical change to prevent a long period of low growth. Talking to The Times, he predicted a very difficult 2016 for Next though he blamed a change in customer spending habits rather than uncertainty surrounding Brexit.[21] Following the success of the Leave campaign, whilst most businessmen urged the Government not to rush proceedings, Wolfson said Britain's success now depended on the tone of trade negotiations, including with China, India and other global economies.[22] However, in January 2017 Wolfson, who had warned the UK economy would collapse if the government failed to get trade agreements in place said the Government should declare its negotiating objectives and not rush things.[23] Wolfson also blamed a "far worse than expected" slump in Next's share price and the issuing of a profit warning, on customers preferring non-clothing Christmas presents. The company, whose share price halved in 2016, warned that the Brexit devaluation would add 5% to prices and lead to further reduction in business.[24][25]

Open Europe[edit]

In December 2016, Wolfson was appointed to the Chair of the Open Europe think-tank.[26]

The Wolfson Economics Prize[edit]

Wolfson is the founder of the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize.

Personal life[edit]

Wolfson married Eleanor Shawcross in London in 2012. She is 14 years younger than he, and her career included working for 8 years as George Osborne's economic adviser.[27] They had a son in 2013/14. [28]

He owns houses in London and Aspley Guise.[8]

See also[edit]


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  6. ^ Stiff, Peter (20 March 2008). "Business big shot: Simon Wolfson". The Times. London. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
  7. ^ a b Cope, Nigel (17 May 2001). "City concern as Wolfson junior bags Next job". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
  8. ^ a b Mesure, Susie (30 March 2007). "Wolfson £3.7m share sale puts paid to Next bid speculation". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 30 March 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
  9. ^ Wilson, Amy (6 January 2009). "Simon Wolfson: Next chief who saw slowdown coming". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
  10. ^ "Next Chief executive Lord Wolfson donates £2.4m bonus to staff". London: The Telegraph (web). 16 April 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  11. ^ a b Yvonne Roberts (31 August 2014). "Low-paid Britain: 'People have had enough. It's soul destroying'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  12. ^ Luke Tugby (12 May 2015). "Next accused of 'bullying' staff into taking Sunday pay cuts". RetailWeek. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  13. ^ Rhiannon Bury (18 April 2017). "Next trims directors' pay to fit disappointing profits". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  14. ^
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  16. ^ "The Right's 100 Most Influential". London: The Telegraph (web). 2 October 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2009.
  17. ^ "Osborne's cuts will strengthen Britain's economy by allowing the private sector to generate more jobs". The Daily Telegraph. London. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  18. ^ "No. 59467". The London Gazette. 23 June 2010. p. 11801.
  19. ^ House of Lords Business, 22 June 2010
  20. ^ "Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise – TheyWorkForYou". TheyWorkForYou.
  21. ^ Stephen Wilmot (24 March 2016). "With or Without Brexit, Next PLC Is Struggling to Stay in Fashion". The Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ Ashley Armstrong ;Peter Dominiczak and James Titcomb (26 June 2016). "George Osborne in bid to calm markets with early-morning statement on Brexit". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  23. ^ Sarah Butler (4 January 2017). "Brexit:pro leave Next boss urges government to lay out core principles". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  24. ^ Sarah Butler; Julia Kollewe (4 January 2017). "Next shares slump after gloomy 2017 forecast and unfestive figures". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  25. ^ Lauren Mills (4 January 2017). "Next issues profit warning after disappointing Christmas sales". Leicester Mercury. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  26. ^ Booth, Stephen (December 2016). "Open Europe announces new leadership and new mission statement". Open Europe website. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
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