By Gemma Goldfingle from the Retail Gazette.
- Almost 30 % of M&S shareholders voted against approving its remuneration report as it faced a backlash over outgoing CEO Steve Rowe’s bumper pay packet
- Rowe’s take home pay more than doubled last year after he received a GBP 1.6 million bonus
M&S faced a sizeable shareholder rebellion at its AGM as 30% of investors voted against approving its remuneration report.
The retailer said it had been talking to its larger shareholders about the subject but insisted it had acted in the interests of shareholders when awarding the bumper pay packet.
It said: “The board strongly believes that it has acted in shareholders’ interests and consistent with the values and integrity of the business in relation to Steve Rowe’s remuneration.
“Steve served 37 years with the business, the last six years as chief executive officer…He worked full time and with total energy as chief executive officer well beyond the end of the financial year.”
“All eligible colleagues have received a bonus this year, the first since 2017, in recognition of the strong financial performance in the year. It would have been wholly wrong to exclude Steve from this as the performance was delivered under his leadership.
“To have denied him the bonus because he helped support an orderly and organised succession that was announced just three weeks before the year-end would have shown bad faith to a great servant of the business and would not have been in any way in shareholders’ interests.”
M&S said the remuneration committee would engage further with shareholders to understand the concerns of the 30 %.
It will update on this engagement within six months of today’s AGM, in accordance with the UK Corporate Governance Code.