Saturday 20 January 2018

The Punt: Abercrombie and switch for Michael Jeffries

Former Abercrombie Chairman Mike Jeffries
Former Abercrombie Chairman Mike Jeffries

THE Punt knows it's getting old when it feels the need for a torch when going into shops like Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister.

It thought it was just part of the trendy fashion scene these days, but maybe in Abercrombie's case, it was all about trying to save on electricity to pay its chief executive's salary.

For Michael S Jeffries was paid a whopping $48.1m (€35.3m) in 2011.

But it feels like angry shareholders have had enough, as the firm's board tried to placate them after they twice slammed the executive pay structure by giving Mr Jeffries 95pc less last year. Abercrombie is one of 11 firms in the Russell 3000 Index that failed to win majority shareholder support for pay practices in non-binding votes for their two most recent fiscal years, according to Bloomberg.

In a year-long charm offensive, Abercrombie has reached out to institutions that control about 60pc of its shares, fielding concerns and highlighting a new employment agreement with Jeffries, according to its proxy statement. Jeffries was removed as chairman in January after 15 years. It seems the company has seen the light, so to speak.

Fizz falls flat at 'Cafe Insane'

There's a joke around certain parts of Dublin that people had such a great party during the boom that the hangover of pay-cuts and mass unemployment has almost been worth it.

Clearly this is meant with tongues firmly in cheeks, but there is no denying that a lot of us had a lot of fun during the bubble.

Ground Zero for Celtic Tiger Dublin was probably the strip on Dawson Street with the quintessential "superpub" Cafe en Seine front and centre for the young professional classes.

The Punt was a regular in there, along with most of the media and financial set. Looking back now, it seems bizarre. Queuing to get in was followed by a ridiculous wait for service at the bar, that is if you could make it to the bar through the maze of exotic plants that dotted the floor.

It definitely wasn't cheap either – a trawl of this newspaper's archive reveals a pint there cost €5.60 in 2007. At the time though it was worth it. 'Cafe Insane' was a great spot.

Still, all good times come to an end. Today, Cafe en Seine is a shadow of its former self. The bar is still busy, but the buzz is not what it was. Now it has been put up for sale on behalf of its receiver and the pair behind its Capital Bars parent, Liam and Des O'Dwyer.

There is another chapter to be written for Cafe en Seine and Capital Bars in general, but it is unlikely to match the heights of seven years ago.

Business isn't all straight

Diversity Champions, an Irish business network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-inclusive employers, held a seminar yesterday with a worthy cause – to promote diversity in the workplace.

The meeting was sponsored by catering giant Sodexo which began four years ago, following a suggestion from Sodexo's amiable and charming Irish boss Margot Slattery, to create a network within the company to help staff who were not straight.

"About four years ago, I was among a group of 12 people who helped frame and plan a strong business case and presentation for the establishment of a global LGBT network within Sodexo," Ms Slattery told yesterday's conference.

"I wanted to help make a difference and change the lives and opportunities for people wanting to be out in their workplace. I wanted to remove fear and be part of an inclusive workplace and organisation and for my company to be at the leading edge in this respect. Our case was successful, the network was established and we have been building on it since then."

The catering company is not the only organisation to actively promote diversity. The Prison Service is another, while accountancy behemoth EY has also done its bit for diversity with the creation of a network dubbed "unity", Catherine Vaughan told the seminar.

Irish Independent

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