Smaller Companies: Directors face wave of revolts from floor

SHAREHOLDERS are revolting - particularly those in smaller companies, where belligerence is in the air. Directors are encountering heavy flak from shareholders short on patience and out for blood.

There is no guarantee that a company's annual meeting will be the passive affair that it used to be. The frequency of hostile extraordinary meetings is increasing, with shareholders banding together in attempts to oust incumbent directors.

One of the most recent and most publicised bust-ups involved Simpsons of Cornhill, owner of two of the most famous restaurants in the Square Mile, which became embroiled in a bunfight with shareholders complaining about cost overruns and escalating directors' fees.

Shareholders failed in their attempt to sack the board, headed by Roy Ackerman, formerly with Kennedy Brookes, and Paul Reece, who joined from Midsummer Leisure. The discontent is still prevalent below the surface, however, and there is every chance that Roger Klapp, the rebels' leader, will mount a fresh challenge.

Hoskins Brewery is also likely to face a barrage of abuse soon. Richard Cattermole, a shareholder, wants to join the board and simultaneously remove Barrie Hoar as chairman.

While that episode takes shape, Harmony Leisure Group is preparing its defences against an attack from a third of the shareholders, who want to replace the entire board.

The dissidents are fronted by Andrew Martyr, a former hotel executive, and Simon Lynch, formerly with Grand Metropolitan. Further support comes from Ronald Laden, a former chairman of Quaker Oats (Europe). They have more than enough requisitions to convene an egm. They recently bought 500,000 shares themselves, equal to 2 per cent.

Outsiders need look no further for the reasons behind the fight than the company's appalling share price and trading record over the last three years.

The last time the shares made a worthwhile advance was in late 1988 to early 1989. Apart from the occasional blip, it has been a downhill ride. The price this year has dwindled from 15p to the 5p par value.

The pubs, hotels and restaurants group last made taxable profits in 1987/8. The red ink has deepened in colour in the last four years from pounds 128,000 to pounds 818,000 to pounds 2.17m and finally to pounds 3.68m in the 12 months to March 1992.

This has happened under the collective stewardship of Stanley Lever, managing director, John Lever, hotels director, Pamela Lever, projects director, and Frank Amhurst, a non-executive director. The last two annual reports, for 1990 and 1991, are conspicuous for the absence of a finance director - a post last mentioned in the 1989 publication.

The Lever family speaks for 24 per cent. Perhaps it is time for them to listen to the calls for resignations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links