Shareholders advisory group Pirc, and Manifest, the proxy voting agency, have both raised concerns about excessive pay for Sainsbury’s boss, Mike Coupe, and a share award for his predecessor, Justin King.
M&S is under fire for offering its chief executive, Marc Bolland, the chance to earn up to three times his salary in long-term share awards based on performance targets which were not linked to financial targets. Pirc is also concerned about a new executive share option plan which allows for awards to be accelerated in the event of a takeover or when an executive leaves the business.
It recommended shareholders vote against both schemes.
Pirc also urged shareholders to vote against Sainsbury’s remuneration policy. It said that Coupe’s pay, which was £1.5m including bonuses last year, was excessive in comparison to that of the average employee at Sainsbury’s. It also had “significant concerns about the termination arrangements for [King]”.
King, who left Sainsbury’s in June after a decade at the helm, waived his cash severance payment of up to £1.7m but instead held on to long-term share awards, which are subject to performance targets.
Manifest said it calculated that King could receive 211% of his former salary, or £1.9m, from outstanding long-term share awards relating to the performance of the business in 2012/13. It said Sainsbury’s should have made clear the potential total pay-out and put a limit on payments at the time of his departure.
Both Pirc and Manifest said they were concerned that shareholders had been left in the dark about the total value of King’s final pay-out.
Last week more than 18% of shareholders failed to back Tesco’s remuneration report, which detailed the £4.13m paid to new chief executive, Dave Lewis, for just six months’ work at the supermarket group last year, and a £1.2m payout to his predecessor, Phil Clarke, who oversaw diving sales and profits.
More than a third of shareholders (35.6%) voted against the Morrisons remuneration report after the company awarded its sacked former chief executive, Dalton Philips, a £1m bonus.
All the major retailers have also been under fire from low-pay campaigners – who will continue their protests this week. ShareAction and Citizens UK are set to urge both M&S and Sainsbury’s to pay their staff at least the living wage which amounts to £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 across the rest of the UK.
In a quirky new tack to the campaign, M&S’s board will be presented with handkerchiefs embroidered by activists from the Craftivist Collective at a series of “stitch-ins” at branches of Marks & Spencer branches across the UK. The group said it wanted to “encourage the company not to ‘blow’ their chance to support life-changing decisions”.
This article was written by Sarah Butler, for theguardian.com on Sunday 5th July 2015 15.31 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010