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As Vendor Pay Ranks Reshuffle, Tommy Ends Up in Top Spot

Tommy Hilfiger was again the most highly compensated apparel executive of an American public company in 2003, replacing Levi’s Phil Marineau.

NEW YORK — Some rose, others fell — and some disappeared.

That was the story of the list of the 20 most highly compensated fashion executives at U.S. publicly listed vendor companies for 2003. In a tough year for vendors — as retail was hit by the struggling economy and the war in Iraq — many executives who figured highly in the 2002 list didn’t even make the top 20 last year. Meanwhile, the return of luxury fueled the rise of at least two leading industry executives, Reed Krakoff and Lew Frankfort of Coach.

It was Krakoff’s first time on the list, while Frankfort returned after a one-year absence.

Tommy Hilfiger, honorary chairman of Tommy Hilfiger Corp., recaptured the title of most highly compensated vendor executive at a U.S. publicly listed company after being supplanted by Philip Marineau in 2002. Ralph Lauren moved into the second slot, with $9 million in total compensation, compared with fourth position in 2002.

Meanwhile, Reed Krakoff, president and executive creative director of Coach Inc., joined the small fraternity of top 20 earners by taking home $5.2 million in salary and bonuses last year, qualifying for the number-four slot. For the third year in a row, no women made the cut.

As usual, bonuses tied to a company’s performance played a large role in determining the winners of the big payout sweepstakes. The average 2003 total compensation for the executives on the list was $4.2 million, while the median was $2.8 million.

Hilfiger’s $18.3 million salary in 2003 — he took no bonus — was enough to grab the number-one spot on the list. Still, his compensation dipped 10.8 percent from 2002 due to lower U.S. sales in fiscal 2003.

Joel Horowitz, executive chairman and former president and chief executive officer of Hilfiger, also saw his remuneration reduced by lower corporate earnings as the firm posted a loss before taxes and items of $69.4 million. Horowitz’s $8.3 million salary and bonus was 22.5 percent less than the $10.7 million he received in 2002.

Conspicuously missing from the list is Levi Strauss & Co. president and ceo Philip Marineau, who ranked number one last year with a 2002 compensation package worth $24.9 million. Marineau’s windfall was criticized by some industry observers, especially in light of the fact that his salary and bonus was just $4,862 less than the company’s 2002 earnings.
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