Sir Stuart Rose, who courted controversy while at Marks and Spencer by holding the posts of both chairman and chief executive, has again come under fire from the retailer’s shareholders after receiving a final pay-out of more than £8m.
Marc Bolland, M&S chief executive, also received pay and share awards worth up to about £14m last year, the company’s annual report revealed.
The level of remuneration to Sir Stuart and Mr Bolland has ignited fresh investor ire over pay at M&S in spite of its chairman, Robert Swannell, attempting to draw a line under past tensions with a more modern pay plan.
One top 10 shareholder called the payment to Sir Stuart “pretty phenomenal”. Together with Mr Bolland’s remuneration, “for a company that size, is a big expense. It again will raise a few eyebrows.”
Sir Stuart, who stepped down in January, walked away with a total of £8.1m in cash and shares. He received £2.77m in salary and bonus, as well as £915,000 in a share bonus plan that was scheduled to pay out. Another £4.5m of long-term share awards that could have paid out in future years were accelerated.
Sir Stuart was drafted into M&S in 2004 to fend off a proposed bid from Sir Philip Green. In spite of investing billions of pounds to revamp stores, M&S shares closed at 367.8p on Thursday, little changed from when Sir Stuart joined the company and still below Sir Philip’s indicative offer of 400p.
Contacted on Thursday night, Sir Stuart said: “I have absolutely nothing to say and I haven’t read the company report.”
According to the annual report, Mr Bolland received just under £5m in salary, bonus and share awards in the year to April 2. He also received long-term awards worth up to £9.5m at Thursday’s closing share price, the bulk of which are subject to performance, partly to compensate him for awards he would have received at his previous employer, Wm Morrison.
Private shareholders mounted a vigorous attack on “banker-style” boardroom pay at Morrison’s annual meeting on Thursday. However, the grocer insisted it had paid the “absolute minimum” – six months’ pay in lieu of notice – to Mr Bolland when he left to join M&S. Big shareholders comfortably approved pay at the group.
Additional reporting by Andrew Bounds