Sir Stuart Rose is dusting himself down this morning after surviving a major show of strength from shareholders unhappy about his role as executive chairman.

At the retailer’s AGM yesterday some 38% of shareholders backed a proposal to split the roles of chief executive and chairman ahead of schedule.

The figures represented record support for a shareholder resolution at a FTSE 100 annual meeting, according to proxy voting agency Manifest.

Many shareholders have sought to reduce Sir Stuart’s powerbase since he was given the enlarged role last year but yesterday he sought to clearly set out plans for his succession, stating a new chief executive would be appointed at some point during 2010 and he would stay on as chairman until July 2011 at the latest. But this wasn’t enough to convince some.

"The investor community has for a long time been concerned about succession planning at M&S,” a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers told The Times. “The size of this vote is a very clear signal that investors need reassuring."

Sir Stuart himself was bullish about the outcome of the vote. “They’ve got an opinion, we’ve got an opinion. We won. End of story,” he was quoted as saying.

Also under fire at yesterday’s meeting were Lady Patten and Sir David Michels. Nearly 11% of voters were against Lady Patten’s re-election as chairman of the retailer’s remuneration committee, while 15% did not back Sir David as deputy chairman.