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Fresh & Easy Flops While CEO Walks with Golden Parachute

December 11, 2012 Updated: August 24, 2020

CEO Secures Severance Package Worth Over $9 Million as 5,000 Workers Likely to Lose Jobs

(Washington, DC) – Even though Tim Mason ran Fresh & Easy into the ground, the former CEO will still be getting his Christmas bonus. Tim Mason has proved more successful at lining his own pockets than at running a grocery chain. Although Mason has resigned following the failure of Fresh & Easy, he will still walk away with a severance package of more than $9 million.

But the company’s 5,000 workers are more likely to see pink slips than bonuses in their stockings this holiday season.

This pattern of putting C-suite interests above the needs of workers and customers contributed to the failure of Fresh & Easy. Now those workers and customers will likely pay the price, with lost jobs and communities blighted by empty storefronts.

Under Mason’s watch, Fresh & Easy lost over $1.6 billion since opening its doors five years ago. Fresh & Easy repeatedly missed its benchmarks for both performance and growth. A June 2012 field research study by Change to Win, a labor federation with which UFCW is affiliated, found that a number of Fresh & Easy stores had execution problems such as product out of stocks, cleanliness and/or product freshness issues, and problems with the ease of self-checkout.

Despite this record, Mason was consistently one of the highest paid executives at Tesco. But compensation for the workers stagnated, with the most senior workers going three years without a pay raise. Now, Mason will walk away from Fresh & Easy with a generous severance package that includes 2 million shares of company stock, and a year’s severance pay, with an additional $14.5 million in pension money.

Mason’s shocking compensation package had been a thorn with investors as they watched Mason become the most highly-paid executive at Tesco, out-earning his own boss, Tesco International CEO Phil Clarke. In 2011, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union engaged with investors and triggered a revolt in which nearly half of Tesco’s investors refused to approve the remuneration package, pushing the company to overhaul its pay policy for top executives.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, go to www.ufcw.org and join us on Facebook: UFCWinternational and follow us on Twitter @UFCW.

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