Staples Shareholders Vote Against Executive-Compensation Plan

Staples Inc. investors rejected the office-supply chain’s executive-pay program in an advisory vote, joining a wave of shareholders criticizing compensation levels at U.S. corporations.

At the company’s annual meeting yesterday, 54 percent of votes were cast against the compensation of top executives, according to a regulatory filing. Investors also passed a nonbinding proposal calling for an independent chairman.

The vote marks the latest case of shareholders chafing at executive compensation. At Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s investor meeting last month, about 77 percent of shareholder votes opposed the restaurant chain’s compensation terms. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., meanwhile, announced in May that it had lowered its chief executive officer’s 2013 compensation by 72 percent after sales and profit fell.

Staples’ CEO, Ron Sargent, received $10.8 million in compensation in fiscal 2014, mostly from stock awards. That was a 66 percent rise from the $6.47 million he was paid the previous year. Still, the amount was down from the $15.1 million he received in 2011.

Sargent, who became CEO in 2002, took on the chairman role in 2005.

Kirk Saville, a spokesman for Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples, said in a statement that the company takes “shareholder input very seriously. The board of directors will take these results into consideration as it continues to work to build value for all shareholders.”

At yesterday’s meeting, shareholders also voted to re-elect 11 board members, including Sargent, and approved the company’s stock-incentive plan.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.