The head of Marks & Spencer today received a broadside from shareholders over his controversial dual role at the helm of the beleaguered retail giant.
Stuart Rose’s re-election as executive chairman failed to win the support of investors representing 22% of the group’s shares voting at the firm’s annual meeting.
His role – combining chairman and chief executive – has raised the ire of many investors as it breaches corporate best practice.
The vote was another blow to Mr Rose after falling sales prompted a shock profits warning from M&S last week and a slump in its shares.
In the election, investors holding 51.6% – or just over 814 million – of M&S shares took part. Of those, 140.1 million abstained and of the remainder nearly 6% – or 39.9 million shares – voted against.
This means 180 million failed to back Sir Stuart’s reappointment - approximately 22%.
Pat Wade, corporate governance manager at Co-operative Investments who withheld her support, said: “It was our intention to send a message to the M&S board that we do not believe it is in the best interests of shareholders for the concentration of power to be held by one individual.”
Alan MacDougall, managing director of pension fund adviser PIRC said it sent a “clear signal” to M&S. He said: “The size of today’s vote would be significant if were against any director, let alone the head of an iconic business, and demonstrates the depth of investor unease.”
Investors representing 16% of shares voting today also failed to back the company’s remuneration report.