Tesco bosses faced a grilling by shareholders today, fending off complaints about customer service, overall strategy and – of course – pay. But by the end of the AGM it was clear the supermarket's shareholders weren't revolting - at least not as much as some thought they might be.
All of Tesco's resolutions, at least three of which - Lewis' pay, John Allan's formal appointment and the pay-off received by Philip Clarke and Laurie MkIlwe - were being contested by Pirc, were passed.
However there, nearly 11 per cent of the votes went against the resolution around remuneration.
One shareholder complained that the supermarket had become “the Ryanair of retail – the only difference being that people still want to fly with Ryanair”.
Another joked that he wanted a hard copy of Tesco's annual report. “If they report profits correctly it'll be a collector's item,” he said.
Others noted the fact it was failing to put up a fight in the battle against budget challengers Aldi and Lidl.
“If my mother could price check in the 1980s, why can't you?” said one shareholders, asking why Lidl was consistently cheaper.
Chief executive Dave Lewis said the retailer was still going through the process of rebuilding itself, noting that a lot of work had been carried out around its promotional strategy, which is heading towards generally lower prices on a consistent basis, rather than spikes that customers had become used to.
“Rebuilding trust and transparency with suppliers,” was also key to the turnaround.
Chairman John Allan said: “We have to behave our way to a better reputation.”
Tesco would trade its way out of its current financial difficulties, he added, although the left the door open to a possible rights issue. “Never say never,” Allan said.
Investors also called the business to task over the sell off of its various assets, living wage and the lack of diversity on its board, which now has just one woman out of 11 directors.
Staff pay was “a live issue”, Allan said, eventually committing to meeting with Citizens UK to discuss the living wage in the next six months.
The pair also had to fend off complaints over bonuses being paid out while dividends were being cut.