Marks & Spencer chairman and chief executive Sir Stuart Rose is facing a shareholder backlash for the second time in less than a year over his appointment as chairman and chief executive of the UK’s largest fashion retailer.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that institutional shareholders in M&S had met with Jan Du Plessis, an independent non-executive director at M&S, within the last 10 days to voice their concerns that Sir Stuart Roseis wielding too much power at the high street chain.
The investors want Rose to appoint a separate chief executive, which they say is corporate governance best practice. They also want a senior independent director appointed to the board. They believe that M&S deputy chairman Sir David Michels is too close to Rose.
“We retain concerns about the M&S board – and we know a lot of other shareholders do. It is difficult to point to evidence that Rose’s combined role is benefitting the company and there are growing questions about the performance of the business.”
An M&S investor
Rose came under fire from shareholders last year when he combined the roles of chairman and chief executive but temporarily appeased shareholders by promising he would be re-elected annually and that M&S would hire a non-executive director who had the potential to be made the senior independent director.
M&S subsequently appointed Du Plessis as a non-executive director and shareholders had hoped he would be appointed senior independent director. However last week he was appointed chairman of mining group Rio Tinto, which is unlikely to leave him with enough time to fulfill the M&S position.
The newspaper said that several shareholders had contacted shareholder lobbying group, the Association of British Insurers [ABI], to express their concerns about M&S.
One investor told The Sunday Times: “We retain concerns about the M&S board – and we know a lot of other shareholders do. It is difficult to point to evidence that Rose’s combined role is benefitting the company and there are growing questions about the performance of the business.”