Tesco avoids bloody nose from shareholders over pay

The supermarket faced an investor revolt last year but changed the way it calculated pay as a result.

Greenpeace activists at Tesco AGM
Greenpeace activists at Tesco AGM

Tesco avoided a shareholder revolt at its annual general meeting on Friday, although the board did face environmental protesters outside its offices ahead of the event.

Just 8.2% of investors in the supermarket voted against the executives’ pay packets, including a £1.6 million final payment for former boss Sir Dave Lewis.

By comparison, more than 70% of rival Morrison’s shareholders voted against its own pay report for bosses.

The Tesco vote was a reversal to the heavy defeat by shareholders at last year’s meeting, where investors rejected the directors’ remuneration report but the payments went ahead because the vote was not binding.

Bosses vowed to change the way bonuses were calculated in future, having faced criticism for no longer considering Ocado a “competitor” in setting targets.

Tesco chairman John Allan
Tesco chairman John Allan was re-elected to the board (Tesco/PA)

Chairman John Allan saw 4.2% vote against his re-election, fellow non-executive board member Byron Grote faced a 6.6% revolt and Steve Golsby lost the support of 4% of shareholders.

The rest of the board were re-elected with 99% of shareholders voting in favour.

Prior to the meeting, Greenpeace activists held giant letters spelling out “Forest crime”, calling on the company to stop using a chicken supplier, Moy Park, owned by JBS which is accused of deforestation in the Amazon.

Elena Polisano, senior forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Tesco’s chicken supplier is owned by a company notorious for destroying the Amazon rainforest.

“And Tesco’s chicken is reared on soya that’s driving deforestation and fires across Brazil.”

Protesters also read out messages from shoppers and Brazilian indigenous leaders.

The vote over pay relates to executives receiving a total payout of £5.9 million for the 2020/21 financial year, almost half the £11.7 million that it handed out in the previous period.

Alan Stewart, who was replaced as chief financial officer by Imran Nawaz last month, received a pay package worth £1.42 million, according to the report.

Tesco’s new chief executive officer, Ken Murphy, received a pay deal just short of £1 million.

Mr Murphy, who took over the reins in September, was handed £629,000 in pay, as well as £363,000 compensation payment for money he forfeited from a non-compete clause he had at previous employer, Walgreens Boots Alliance.

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