Steve Gray of Nuffield Health

The former healthcare director at the retailer Superdrug will in January join the charity noted for large executive salaries

Steve Gray
Steve Gray

In January, Steve Gray will become chief executive of Nuffield Health, one of the largest charities in the UK. It operates 31 hospitals and 77 gyms with about 10,000 staff.

Last year, it had an income of £711m, making it the fourth-largest charity by income in England and Wales, behind the Lloyd's Register Foundation, the British Council and Arts Council England. Gray will take over from David Mobbs, the group chief executive, who has led the charity for the past 13 years and is believed to be the highest-paid person in the charity sector, earning between £780,000 and £789,000 in 2014.

Senior pay has come under scrutiny recently, and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations says charities should reveal what senior staff are paid within two clicks of a home page. Nuffield declines to say how much Gray will be paid or reveal details of his CV before 2008, and Gray declines to give an interview. His pay will become clear in the next accounts, which are required to give the salary bands of staff paid more than £60,000.

Gray is currently healthcare director at the retailer Superdrug and has been credited with turning around its faltering healthcare division. In April AS Watson, the parent company of Superdrug, announced that he would be promoted to the newly created role of international healthcare director for the group from January 2016. Under his leadership, Superdrug's health product sales grew by more than 12 per cent last year. He also oversaw the launch of the retailer's internet-based health service, the Online Doctor, and led the development of the Wellbeing concept store in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Before joining AS Watson, he was chief commercial officer at Lloyds Pharmacy's parent company, Celesio.

Nuffield Health's income grew by more than £150m between 2010 and 2014. But Gray faces challenges - according to the charity's latest accounts, the private medical insurance market is recovering slowly from the downturn and the fees it receives from the NHS are under pressure. Its corporate customers also continue to drive down costs and other providers are increasingly competitive on price.

Russell Hardy, chair of Nuffield Health, said in a statement that it searched the world to find its next chief executive and Gray was "the outstanding candidate. His strategic insights into the UK healthcare market, combined with his vision for Nuffield Health over the next stage of its development, were compelling. He has a proven track record of innovation and commercial success across a range of healthcare markets."

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