Over two thirds of Morrisons shareholders have voted against the grocer’s plan to offer bosses bumper payouts after removing the £290 million cost of dealing with Covid-19 before calculating bonuses.
The retailer revealed that 70.12 per cent of shareholder votes were cast against its remuneration report at its AGM in Bradford yesterday.
In its annual report, the Big 4 grocer said its chief executive David Potts would receive the maximum £1.7 million bonus for the past year.
This is despite profits plunging £165 million from £435 million in the previous year.
The retailer’s boardroom committee had upgraded the payout after it stripped out the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic when calculating whether a bonus would be appropriate.
Potts has been handed a total pay package worth £4.2 million including the bonus.
On Thursday, the retailer said it noted the “very significant majority” vote against the pay deal but defended the boardrooms decision.
“In the committee’s view, Morrisons performed exceptionally well for the nation during the first year of Covid with the executives widely recognised for their leadership, clarity, decisiveness, compassion and speed of both decision-making and execution,” Morrisons said in a statement.
“In these circumstances, the remuneration committee believed that it was appropriate to apply some discretion to the remuneration of the senior executives.
“It is a matter of sincere regret to the committee that it clearly has not been able to convince a majority of shareholders – or the proxy voting agencies – that this was the right course of action.”
The statement continued: “The committee looks forward to re-engaging with shareholders, listening to their views, and once again making the case for why discretion was used in a genuinely exceptional year which produced a genuinely exceptional performance from the executive leadership.”
The news comes as last month Morrisons said sales continued to grow in the latest quarter as pandemic restrictions kept grocery sales strong.
According to the retailer, sales in the 14 weeks to May 9 grew 2.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis, excluding fuel.
with PA Wires