Shareholders give M&S bloody nose over £15m pay for Bolland

Nearly one in five shareholders refused to support the remuneration report of Marks & Spencer yesterday at its annual meeting, as they rebelled against the £15m its new chief executive Marc Bolland could earn this year.

The bloody nose given to M&S over its executive pay is the latest given by investors to a string of blue-chip companies. There were similar votes at the annual meetings of the mining group Xstrata and the consumer-goods company Reckitt Benckiser.

When the 8 per cent abstention vote is included, 16 per cent of shareholders failed to back the remuneration report, with 83.8 per cent supporting it. This is above the average levels of opposition or abstention for votes on executive pay this year.

Pirc, the corporate-governance body, and the Association of British Insurers had both urged investors to vote against the resolution on executive pay. More specifically, Pirc had highlighted the "highly excessive" executive pay at M&S and the lucrative package given to Mr Bolland, who could earn up to £14.8m this year, although £7.5m of this is compensation for bonuses accrued in his previous post at Morrisons.

After the vote yesterday, a Pirc spokesman said: "The 'golden hello' [for Mr Bolland] was the most important issue this time around. Whilst people have welcomed the appointment of Mr Bolland, some shareholders are not happy with the pay arrangement. This is something the company needs to look into." However, he conceded: "We would have liked to have seen a larger level of opposition."

Sir Stuart Rose, the chairman of M&S who was overseeing his last AGM as he will step down by March 2011, remained defiant over the remuneration vote, referring to 91.4 per cent of shareholder votes cast in favour of the report, excluding abstentions.

Sir Stuart also defended Mr Bolland's pay by saying he was "the right man to take the business forward". He stressed that only Mr Bolland's pension and salary were guaranteed, and that 85 per cent of his package would be performance-related.

As usual, the chairman turned on the charm for the army of private shareholders who always attend the event. On several occasions, Sir Stuart received rapturous applause. The event was also characterised by a series of quirky questions from the floor, including how the trays are cleared in its cafés and the quality of its socks. Sir Stuart has also faced criticism for the £875,000 salary he gets from the end of this month when he becomes non-executive chairman. Last year, the chairman took home total pay of £4.3m, including a cash bonus of £1.13m and a reward in deferred shares of £1.69m.

However, both he and Mr Bolland received resounding votes of around 96 per cent in favour of their re-election to the board.

M&S delivered a 5 per cent rise in underlying profits to £633m for the year to 27 March, although this was down sharply from the £1bn delivered in the year to March 2008.

Shareholders also expressed their dismay at the fact that M&S trimmed its dividend last year and that its share price, which closed at 349.1p yesterday, remains below the 360p on Sir Stuart's first day in 31 May 2004.

However, Sir Stuart cited the £4.6bn in share buy-backs and dividends it had returned to shareholders over the past six years. Furthermore, he was applauded for helping to fight off a takeover by the retail tycoon Sir Philip Green in 2004.

Mr Bolland, who will unveil his thoughts on his strategy for M&S in November, told the gathered shareholders: "Yes, there will be change, but it will be building on the things that are good." Sir Stuart said that Mr Bolland, who took the helm at Morrisons in September 2006, was a "stayer", adding he wanted to be at M&S for a "substantial" period.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker