Great Universal Stores' chief executive, John Peace, has become of the country's highest paid executives.

Mr Peace has a salary package of more than £1.6m and an extra award of free shares worth more than £880,000.

It is a big increase for Mr Peace who, when he won promotion 18 months ago, had a salary package of £452,000.

Mr Peace's payout was revealed in GUS' annual report and accounts and comes less than a week after the company warned it had been hit by the slowdown in the US.

The downturn has hit sales at its credit information business, Experience, which accounts for around 40 per cent of GUS' profit.

The company had already announced 150 job cuts at Experian to save £7.3m and warned there could be more to come.