BOSSES heading some of the best-known companies in Hampshire are earning massive salaries, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Alan Wilson, the millionaire boss of Southampton-based financial services group Skandia, took home £669,000, a hike of more than £269,000 from the previous year.

Paul Lester, head of Hampshire shipbuilders VT Group, was also high up the pay league table with £611,000 while Saints chairman Rupert Lowe earned £407,000.

Their pay packets, including bonuses, fees and benefits, contrast with the average Southampton salary of £25,300.

Unions have condemned the figures, compiled by a respected financial magazine, which lists the pay and bonuses of more than 600 company directors in the south.

A spokesman for financial services union Unifi said: "It's out of proportion - the bonuses and pay cheques - to everything."

But bosses strongly refuted that comment, insisting they are worth every penny because of the business they generate - creating job security and wealth for staff and shareholders.

A spokesman for Skandia, which started in Southampton from nothing 25 years ago to being worth £1 billion now under the guidance of Mr Wilson, said: "These are payments for success, not payments for failure."

Want to know what your boss earns? - See today's Spotlight by going to the 'More News' section of 'This is Southampton'.