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Sharing the love: A year after sacking 4000, Skroo hands out shares to staff

Business

Flight Centre will give away about $30 million of its shares to staff in a one-off program to keep them in the company.

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It follows a disastrous 2020 for the company when it was forced to shut stores and sack about 4000 workers in Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

But now there are about 190 jobs listed on its website globally.

The Brisbane-based travel company today announced that about 7000 staff will be eligible for share rights program in which most workers would receive 250 share rights which will vest in 2023. That would give staff a bonus of about $3700 worth of shares based on last night’s closing price.

Flight Centre said about 1.9 million shares would be available under the offer with a non-cash cost of $30 million based on current share prices.

But the strategy, known as the global recovery rights program, is also seen as a way of retaining staff, thanking them for sticking around and replacing lost commissions without increasing wages.

Managing director Graham “Skroo” Turner said it was a specific, one-off response to COVID-19 and was aligned with the company’s objectives in retaining staff and preserving cash during the continued travel restrictions.

“This is a material investment in the people who are integral to the company’s recovery and shareholder value-creation,” Turner said.

“The GRR program underlines our people’s importance and recognises their efforts and their loyalty since the pandemic began and travel restrictions were imposed, adversely impacting their earning potential while they continued to work incredibly hard to help customers secure refunds or rearrange their travel plans.

“It is first and foremost a retention program that encourages our people to continue their careers with us during what we believe will be an important 18-month period as vaccination programs progress, trading conditions start to normalise and the recovery starts to gain momentum.”

Turner said the strategy also gave staff a degree of ownership of the company.

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