Feud hits Shepherd Neame profits

Shepherd Neame, the 300-year-old brewer quoted on Ofex, saw more than £800,000 wiped off its profits last year thanks to a family feud between its former vice-chairman, Stuart Neame, and his first cousin once removed, the company's chief executive, Jonathan Neame.

Shepherd Neame, the 300-year-old brewer quoted on Ofex, saw more than £800,000 wiped off its profits last year thanks to a family feud between its former vice-chairman, Stuart Neame, and his first cousin once removed, the company's chief executive, Jonathan Neame.

The former vice-chairman resigned from the group last autumn, after a dispute with the board over strategy. Stuart Neame was calling on the group to split its pub and brewing operations, and to get the company's chairman, Robert Neame, who is the chief executive's father, to step down.

After the board refused to go along with his plan, Stuart Neame resigned, claiming constructive dismissal, and took the case to an employment tribunal. Although he lost, his departure triggered a one-off £460,000 contractual payment to his pension, and left the company with a £362,000 legal bill.

Stuart Neame has now filed three motions to be voted on at this month's annual meeting, calling for the group to improve its corporate governance standards, to appoint his brother Roderick to the board, and to change the company's accounting practices. The board is advising shareholders to vote against the motions.

Yesterday, Jonathan Neame, the chief executive, said: "[Stuart] had aspired to be chairman, and that wasn't going to be." Reporting its full-year results, the group announced a 9.6 per cent increase in operating profit to £12m.Shares in the brewer closed up 5p at 790p.

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