Simon Wolfson

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The Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise
Born Simon Adam Wolfson
(1967-10-27) 27 October 1967 (age 48)
London England[1]
Occupation Businessman

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.

Early life and career[edit]

He attended Radley College, near Abingdon, followed by studying law at Trinity College, Cambridge.[2] 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.[3] 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.[3] At the age of 33, this made him the youngest chief executive of a FTSE 100 company.[4] He was one of the first businesspeople to predict the 2008–9 economic crisis.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] In 2014, for a second successive year, Wolfson waived his bonus and distributed it among staff, sharing some £3.8m.[7] 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."[8]

Personal life[edit]

Wolfson owns houses in London and in Leicester, where Next is based.[4]

Political views[edit]

He 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.[9] 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.[10]

On 18 June 2010, Wolfson was created Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise, of Aspley Guise in the County of Bedfordshire,[11] and was introduced in the House of Lords on 6 July 2010.[12] As of January 2016, he has a less than average attendance record for the House.[13]

He voted 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.[14] 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.[15]

The Wolfson Economics Prize[edit]

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

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.debretts.com/people/biographies/browse/w/25740/Simon%20Adam%20Wolfson+WOLFSON%20OF%20ASPLEY%20GUISE.aspx
  2. ^ Stiff, Peter (20 March 2008). "Business big shot: Simon Wolfson". The Times (London). Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Amy (6 January 2009). "Simon Wolfson: Next chief who saw slowdown coming". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  6. ^ "Next Chief executive Lord Wolfson donates £2.4m bonus to staff". London: The Telegraph (web). 16 April 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Yvonne Roberts (31 August 2014). "Low-paid Britain: 'People have had enough. It's soul destroying'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Luke Tugby (12 May 2015). "Next accused of 'bullying' staff into taking Sunday pay cuts". RetailWeek. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "The Right's 100 Most Influential". London: The Telegraph (web). 2 October 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59467. p. 11801. 23 June 2010.
  12. ^ House of Lords Business, 22 June 2010
  13. ^ http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peer/24988/lord_wolfson_of_aspley_guise#appearances
  14. ^ Stephen Wilmot (24 March 2016). "With or Without Brexit, Next PLC Is Struggling to Stay in Fashion". WSJ. 
  15. ^ Ashley Armstrong  ;Peter Dominiczak and James Titcomb (26 June 2016). "George Osborne in bid to calm markets with early-morning statement on Brexit". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2016.