M&S boss survives 'quit early' vote

SIR Stuart Rose yesterday survived a shareholder vote designed to split his controversial dual role at the helm of Marks & Spencer a year early. But Sir Stuart - who is both chief executive and chairman of the retailer - did face investors' misgivings about the firm's management structure.

SIR Stuart Rose yesterday survived a shareholder vote designed to split his controversial dual role at the helm of Marks & Spencer a year early.

But Sir Stuart - who is both chief executive and chairman of the retailer - did face investors' misgivings about the firm's management structure.

A resolution tabled at the M&S annual meeting in London yesterday by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) attracted only 40.3% support, against the 75% it needed to succeed.

Sir Stuart said: “The board sees this as an endorsement of its succession plans.”


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The company's remuneration report was also approved, following a number of concessions in recent weeks - under which Sir Stuart and marketing director Steven Sharp are to forego a third of their long-term bonus awards - in response to criticism from the Association of British Insurers.

Ian Greenwood, of the LAPFF, told the meeting his organisation did not oppose Sir Stuart personally. But he said: “There is no doubt whatever that having a chair and chief executive as the same person is an increased risk.”

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Mr Greenwood said the LAPFF recognised that there are “certain circumstances” when one person would hold both positions for a short period of time, but added “this is not a short period”. “There is a reputational risk, there's no doubt about that,” he said.

However, urging shareholders to reject the special resolution, deputy chairman Sir David Michels said the board stood by the decision to appoint Sir Stuart to the dual role of chief executive and chairman.

He said a new chief executive would be appointed in 2010 as planned, with Sir Stuart stepping down from that role but retaining the role of chairman so as to ensure a “smooth transition” ahead of his retirement, due by July 2011.

Besides criticism of the company's management structure, questions from the floor during yesterday's meeting ranged from an allegation that M&S was focusing too much on older shoppers to a complaint about the non-availability of men's thermal underwear.

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