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Rose sees off revolt among shareholders

SIR Stuart Rose yesterday quelled investor rebellion and hung on to his job as Marks &amp; Spencer&rsquo;s executive chairman.<br /><br />But despite seeing off a protest vote at the group&rsquo;s annual meeting, he did not get an easy ride, with a higher-than-expected 38 per cent of investors backing a resolution that could have forced him to relinquish the role<br /><br />Rose has been under intense pressure for weeks, after the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) tabled a resolution calling on the retailer to find a new chairman.<br /><br />Although the 37.7 per cent of investors that voted in favour of the resolution was well short of the 75 per cent it needed to be carried, it was more than the 20 to 30 per cent the retailer was braced for.<br /><br />Now the resolution is merely advisory, meaning M&amp;S will stick by its plans to appoint a new chief executive next year &ndash; preferably internally &ndash; and a new chairman by July 2011.<br /><br />LAPFF chairman Councillor Ian Greenburg yesterday told City A.M: &ldquo;About 40 per cent didn&rsquo;t support M&amp;S management which shows a considerable number of shareholders have concerns about the concentration of two roles in one.&rdquo;<br /><br />He added: &ldquo;We are not going to go away and will continue to engage with M&amp;S until appropriate governance is in place.&rdquo;<br /><br />A further 20 per cent either voted against or abstained on whether Rose should be re-elected to the board in any capacity whatsoever. <br /><br />Meanwhile, ahead of the meeting Rose said he had received a record number of shareholder questions &ndash; 7,000 in comparison to 1,200 the year before.<br /><br />But while his dual role was under fire in the City, the most frequently asked question among shareholders concerned the retailer&rsquo;s decision to scrap its in-store ordering system.<br /><br />Rose was only to happy to perform the role of shop floor salesman for the full house of shareholders that gathered in the Royal Festival Hall and confidently batted aside concerns over corportate governance.<br /><br />Rose said he believed there was a &ldquo;little bit of life&rdquo; left in him and that he want to &ldquo;ensure the right chief executive was chosen&rdquo; in line with the existing timetable.