Marks & Spencer Group Plc said 8.6 percent of voting shareholders opposed its remuneration report, under which new Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland could receive 15 million pounds ($22.9 million).
The report was approved by 91.4 percent of those that voted, the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer said at its annual general meeting at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The figures didn’t include the 8.3 percent of shares that weren’t voted.
Pensions & Investment Research Consultants Ltd. had called for investors to oppose the report, which it said included “highly excessive” executive pay and recruitment incentives for the CEO. The Association of British Insurers, whose members own about 15 percent of British publicly traded companies’ shares, issued an “amber top” warning to investors, urging a “considered judgement” on the report.
“We got over 90 percent of the vote, I don’t see a problem with that,” Chairman Stuart Rose said after the meeting.
Bolland, 51, joined the retailer in May. His package includes a 975,000-pound salary, bonuses and a 7.5 million-pound payment to compensate for incentives he would have received at his former employer, William Morrison Supermarkets Plc.
“That money will be delivered if the company does well,” Rose told the meeting. “I hope he will earn that money because as a shareholder I know I will be happy.”
‘Evolution, Not Revolution’
Rose, who is due to stand aside by March, received a 48 percent pay increase last year, including a 1.14 million-pound cash bonus, even as the retailer cut its dividend for the first time in nine years. “I won’t be here next year,” Rose said, when asked about his pay increase.
Bolland plans “an evolution, not revolution” of the business, he told shareholders at the meeting.
“Yes, there will be change, but it will be building on the things that are good,” the CEO said. He is due to present his detailed plans for the business in November.
Bolland turned a loss of 250 million pounds into a record profit of 554 million pounds in his first two years at Morrison. During his tenure, sales rose more than 20 percent and the stock gained 26 percent, while Marks & Spencer shares fell 34 percent.