More than half of Morrisons shareholders have failed to back the supermarket’s bosses’ pay package in a massive protest vote. Investors representing 48% of its shares voted against the company’s remuneration report, rising to 51% with abstentions, as Morrisons held its annual shareholder meeting at its HQ in Bradford on Thursday (The Guardian). In a move that drew the ire of WM Morrison’s chairman, 48% of shareholders in the Bradford-based grocer voted against a plan to boost the pay of David Potts, chief executive, up to a maximum of £5.3m this year, compared with the £2.8m he received last year (The Times £).
The shareholder rebuke follows criticism of Morrisons from two influential investor bodies that objected to the new share scheme, which they said offered executives richer rewards and laxer targets (The Financial Times £). Morrisons chairman slams shareholder backlash over chief executive’s £10m pay, writes The Daily Mail. Chairman Andy Higginson said: “We consulted widely with shareholders on the new remuneration policy which received strong support”.
Morrisons’ indignation over shareholder rebellion is misplaced, writes the Guardian’s Nils Pratley. If the supermarket wants investors to back its executives’ pay, it shouldn’t annoy them with a top-up that looks greedy. (The Guardian)
Britain’s high streets suffered a torrid month in May as the squeeze on household incomes from rising inflation knocked retail sales to a four-year low (The Times £). British households are feeling the squeeze from higher prices and sluggish pay rises, resulting in retail sales growth slowing to the lowest level in the past four years. (The Telegraph). The growing squeeze on household budgets from Brexit-linked inflation and weaker wage growth is taking its toll on retailers (Sky News).
A worse-than-expected decline in retail sales volumes has sparked the biggest daily fall in the FTSE 250 since last summer, with shares in retailers, housebuilders, restaurant chains and car dealers all going into reverse (The Guardian). Panic-stricken investors pulled £900 million from FTSE 100 retailers yesterday as the outlook for shoppers turned sour in a perfect storm of bad economic news (The Daily Mail).
The boss of Majestic Wine has claimed the company is “past the tipping point” as it continues its transformation plan, despite falling to a full-year loss (The Telegraph). Rowan Gormley claimed the company was much better placed to face the deteriorating economic environment after passing the “tipping point” in its three-year recovery plan (The Times £). Majestic Wine suffers £1.5million loss as overhaul continues leaving shareholders with a bitter aftertaste (The Daily Mail).
The FT’s Lombard column says Majestic Wine’s Brexit outlook makes valuation seem full-bodied. IT writes: “Brexit-related currency effects have raised costs for UK importers. Majestic said its gross retail margin fell 70 basis points last year so pricing had to be adjusted to restore them. And, second, these higher prices have come just as wage growth is falling.” (The Financial Times £)
Nestlé has announced it is quitting the US confectionery business and putting up for possible sale brands including Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and Crunch chocolate bars which generated sales of SFr900m ($923m) last year (The Financial Times £). Nestle had previously described the US business as “disappointing”. The potential deal, which would represent about 3% of its US sales, will not include its Toll House bakery business. (The BBC)
The hedge funds attempting to take full control of the Co-operative Bank are in talks about a multi-million pound payment to enable it to dissolve its obligations to its former parent’s pensioners. (Sky News)
The chief executive of Whole Foods has taken aim at an activist investor in the upmarket US grocer, saying it was a “greedy bastard” that would have to “knock Daddy out if they want to take” over the company. In a blunt interview with the magazine Texas Monthly, the company’s co-founder John Mackey attacked the hedge fund Jana Partners, which announced in April it had acquired a 9% stake and would press the company to overhaul its business or sell itself. (The Financial Times £)
The latest slice of Domino’s Pizza to float on the London stockmarket has been priced at up to £330m ahead of its forthcoming listing. (The Telegraph)