Domino's Pizza denies shareholder complaints over board shake up plans

Alex Daniel
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Domino's Pizza Reports Quarterly Earnings Surpassing Expectations
Domino's has been rocked by the resignation of three finance directors in four years (Source: Getty)

Domino’s Pizza has denied rumours of shareholder unrest over changes to the company's board positions.

The pizza giant has not been contacted by shareholders demanding changes to its board, City A.M. understands, despite reports a group had told chairman Stephen Hemsley to hire a new heavyweight senior independent director.

A group of top 20 shareholders were said to be concerned Hemsley and chief executive David Wild were not being sufficiently challenged at the helm.

The Sunday Times reported shareholders had told Hemsley he must hire a new senior director after being left dissatisfied plans revealed in November to bulk up the board.

But a source said the claim published this morning was “very odd,” adding that “not a single shareholder” had got in touch to complain about the matter.

The claim follows similar reports in November that shareholders were unhappy with senior independent director Helen Keays, the only female on Domino’s nine-person board.

But the source added no shareholders had been in touch to complain about Keays either, who has served since 2011 after a career at Majestic Wine, GE Capital and Vodafone.

In a statement, the company reiterated shareholders had been positive about plans for changes to the board.

“We’ve outlined our plans to shareholders to both refresh and expand the Board and they’ve expressed support,” a spokesperson said.

Domino’s said in November it was planning to search for another non-executive director to strengthen its board, after the resignation of three finance directors in four years.

The most recent resignation was finance director Rachel Osborne, who left the FTSE 250 firm in August to help steady the ship at struggling retailer Debenhams.

Domino’s shares have plunged more than a third since June after Osborne’s departure, and the franchise saw a slower rate of store openings in 2018 than in previous years.

Companies have come under increasing pressure in recent years to have more female board members. A review in 2015 by Lord Mervyn Davies, former Standard Chartered chairman, told FTSE 350 companies to make sure it had one-third female board members by 2020, meaning Domino’s still has some way to go in the next year to meet this benchmark.

In October, the fast food brand cut back its full year forecast for pre-tax profits, saying it would land in the middle of the range of market expectations, between £93m and £99.6m.

Previous guidance had suggested the pizza parlour could earn between £95.9m and £101.4m in the period.