But the vote on the resolution to remove Mr Pearson was extremely tight, with 50.89 per cent of voting shareholders in favour and 49.11 per cent against. The turnout was 97 per cent.
Resolutions appointing Ian Tickler, a former chairman, and Donald Crammond, a former deputy chairman, to the board were approved by similar margins.
Mr Tickler, whose family controls a third of the shares, led the rebel campaign, claiming that the business had lost direction under the stewardship of Mr Pearson.
He had been chairman before Mr Pearson, but left the business in 1991 to concentrate on other interests. Mr Crammond was ousted at the annual meeting in August.
The five-strong board, with the exception of one director, supported Mr Pearson. After the meeting, Mr Tickler said his first priority was to create harmony on the board. He believed they had supported Mr Pearson out of loyalty to the incumbent chairman.
He added that the board intended to appoint a new non-executive chairman. He said a candidate, 'of some standing in industry and the City', had been identified and an announcement would be made soon.
He said it had still to be decided whether he himself would assume the role of chief executive.
Mr Pearson had succeeded Mr Tickler as chairman when his engineering company, Jackdaw, was acquired by Arthur Shaw in 1990. He has a 15 per cent stake in the company, which floated on the Unlisted Securities Market in 1988, while Mr Tickler was still at the helm.
Before the meeting he obtained an ex-parte injunction in Birmingham High Court, blocking the appointment of Mr Tickler and Mr Crammond to the board. But this was overturned at a subsequent hearing.
In circulars to shareholders before the meeting, Mr Tickler and Mr Crammond argued that the Jackdaw business was at the heart of the group's problems and should be sold.Reuse content