WH Smith has seen its shareholders rebel over its plans to pay its chief executive Carl Cowling a £550,000 bonus, with 46% of the votes at its AGM cast against its remuneration report.
The bonus is to go ahead after it received 54% approval, however when taking into account those who also abstained from voting it meant that 53% of its shareholders either stood against or decided to not vote in favour of the move.
Last week, investor advisory groups reportedly expressed opposition to the company issuing a bonus to Cowling at a time when it had taken furlough and business rates relief from the government.
A note on the report of the AGM results from the retailer said: “The board notes the results of the advisory vote on the Directors’ Remuneration Report, which has been supported by the majority of the company’s shareholders.
“The Remuneration Committee has already conducted an extensive consultation with the company’s largest shareholders regarding the Remuneration Report and the company’s new Remuneration Policy. The new chair of the Remuneration Committee, Marion Sears, looks forward to continuing the company’s constructive discussions with shareholders, following her appointment, over the coming months.The board will report on any actions resulting from those discussions in due course.”
The news also comes after WH Smith released a trading update that revealed for the 20 weeks to 15 January 2022, total group revenue was 85% of 2019 revenues for the period.