Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose has kept his job after a planned shareholder revolt at the retailer’s annual meeting yesterday turned into no more than a whimper.
Over 94 per cent of the grey-haired army that braved the rain to descend on the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank yesterday afternoon to attend the retailer’s annual meeting voted in favour of Rose’s reappointment as both chairman and chief executive.
It later emerged that 22 per cent of investors – both private shareholders and institutional investors – either voted against or abstained from the vote in protest against his dual role.
Are you nervous?” deputy chairman David Michels jokily asked Rose who waited with a pursed face while the audience voted on his reappointment to both chairman and chief executive. Rose offered no response.
Whether it was the spread of cocktail pork pies and British strawberries on offer, or his heartened speech to convince investors that his dual role was in the company’s best interests, Rose, who faced sprinklings of both heckling and praise in equal measure during an entertaining meeting, managed to win them over.
He cleverly fobbed off concerns from the 2,000-plus audience about the cost of M&S food or the quality of its clothes – which were either too small, the wrong fabric or style – by offering to take the ladies shopping. “I’ll take you myself and I’ll be dumbstruck if you don’t find anything you like,” Rose said to applause.
Responding to concerns about Rose’s dual role, which goes against good corporate governance practice, Michels said: “Stuart has a job to finish and he can do it better than anyone around in our opinion.”
Rose added that the non-executive directors were “challenging” and kept the executive directors “on their toes.