AGM rebellion

M&S suffers investor revolt over CEO’s pay deal

Steve Rowe
Steve Rowe: pay packet doubles

Marks & Spencer has suffered a backlash from shareholders over a plan to double outgoing CEO Steve Rowe’s salary to £2.6 million.

The resolution on the remuneration report was passed at the company’s annual general meeting though it was opposed by 29% of those who voted.

The company 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.”

The retailer, a stalwart of Britain’s main streets, said all eligible staff had received a bonus this year — the first since 2017 — after a solid improvement in profit and it would have been “wholly wrong” to exclude Mr Rowe who had overseen the chain’s recovery. 

“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,” the company said. 

Mr Rowe officially stepped down from his role earlier this year but is still acting as an adviser to the new leadership team.

His remuneration included a £1.6m bonus, half of which will be deferred into shares and released in three years. He will also be paid a full salary and benefits until 2023, but will not be eligible for a bonus next year. 

M&S said it has begun talks with those who opposed the report, but insisted that “the majority of shareholders were right in their judgment” to support the pay plan.

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