Furniture firm pays record bonus

Christmas came early this week for the employees of furniture maker Ekornes in Aalesund. The company logged strong results last year and opted to share the wealth with workers, meaning their March paychecks were handsome indeed.

Christmas came early this week for the employees of furniture maker Ekornes in Aalesund. The company logged strong results last year and opted to share the wealth with workers, meaning their March paychecks were handsome indeed.

"We've never received so much, at the same time," said Asbjoern Sjaastad, who heads a local union at Ekornes. In addition to their regular monthly pay, employees also received a bonus for 2003 and cash from realizing stock options.

That meant that as much as NOK 90,000 (around USD 12,700) rolled into employee accounts this month.

"We're very satisfied these days," said production line worker Maalfinn Aanning. "This kind of pay makes us want to work even harder for the company."

Ekornes, perhaps best known for its chairs and office furniture, logged around NOK 300 million in profits last year. Management decided to use NOK 33 million of that in bonus payments to employees equal to about 90 percent of a month's pay.

"It's well-deserved," declared former chief executive Jens Petter Ekornes, now a senior adviser to the company. "And the bonus sets a clear goal. Everyone follows the progress of the company, and everyone is interested in achieving positive results."

Increasing numbers of Norwegian companies are opting for bonus programs for workers. Statoil recently paid out NOK 21,000 to each of its 11,000 workers, while a bank in Sandnes paid NOK 67,000 to each of its staff members.

Associated companies: