Darty chief forced out as shareholders revolt

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The Independent Online

Thierry Falque-Pierrotin, the chief executive of the electrical retailer Darty, became this autumn's first victim of shareholder activism yesterday.

Alan Parker, the former boss of Whitbread who became chairman of Darty only last month, said the board and Mr Falque-Pierrotin had agreed that he should leave when a full review of the business – the former owner of Comet – was finished in December.

But the Frenchman was already under pressure following the revelation that a £620,000 share award he was given when he joined in 2009 was not – as had been stated in that year's annual report – subject to any performance targets.

Mr Parker admitted that shareholders were rightly angered by "that mistake which happened before I came on the board".

Mr Falque-Pierrotin will get a pay-off of at least £1m based on his base salary of £1.04m last year.

Investors, led by the activist shareholder Knight Vinke, which owns 25 per cent, delivered a massive 58 per cent protest vote against Darty's remuneration report at yesterday's annual meeting.

Darty, which was called Kesa until it sold the Comet chain, said sales since May had grown by 1 per cent but same-store sales in its main French business had fallen 2.5 per cent, which was slightly better than the City had feared.

Darty said it had already identified €20m (£16m) a year of potential savings and expected to find more as the review continued.