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Ex-Wet Seal CEO's Pay Rose 21% in Fiscal 2002

But Kathy Bronstein's bonus shrank 85% before she was ousted. Terms of her severance are being negotiated.

April 15, 2003|Leslie Earnest | Times Staff Writer

Former Wet Seal Inc. Chief Executive Kathy Bronstein's salary rose 21% to more than $1 million in fiscal 2002 but her bonus shrank 85% before she was relieved of her duties in February, according to documents filed by the company Monday.

The salary boost was in keeping with Bronstein's employment agreement, according to the company's proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She was awarded a bonus of $228,000, compared with $1.75 million the previous year. Both her salary and bonus were tied to the company's pretax profit.

Further, Bronstein received almost $91,000 in additional compensation in fiscal 2002, including $80,777 in lieu of vacation and $10,000 for an automobile allowance, according to the proxy.

No other top Wet Seal executives received bonuses last year. Bronstein had been with the apparel retailer since 1985 and was one of the few women leading a publicly held company. She became CEO in 1992.

In a separate filing last month, Wet Seal said Bronstein remained on salary pending resolution of her employment contract. "There can be no assurance that Ms. Bronstein and our company will reach an amicable agreement on her status," the filing said.

Spokesman Steven Strickland said Monday that Bronstein's severance package was "still under negotiation."

Bronstein's ouster came about six months after sales and profit began to soften. Since autumn, the company has been struggling to find the right fashion mix for the trend-conscious girls and young women who shop in its Wet Seal, Arden B and Zutopia stores. Wet Seal earned $4.2 million in the year ended Feb. 1, in contrast to $31 million the previous year.

At the time of her termination, Wet Seal declined to say precisely why Bronstein was let go. However, Chairman Irv Teitelbaum, who has been serving as interim chief executive, acknowledged then that Bronstein's departure was linked at least in part to the company's poor performance.

Wet Seal's stock closed at $8.94, down 11 cents, in Nasdaq trading. The stock has lost 64% of its value over the last year.

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