Share Prices & Company Research

Market News

20 Jan 2021 | 15:14

WH Smith retreats over CEO pay after investor revolt

(Sharecast News) - WH Smith has delayed a pay increase for Chief Executive Carl Cowling after almost one-third of shareholder votes opposed the company's remuneration report. The FTSE 250 company said 32.6% of votes at the meeting opposed the pay report at the annual general meeting held behind closed doors. It said shareholders' main objection was to a £25,000 a year increase to Chief Executive Carl Cowling's pay planned for each of the next three years.

WH Smith said its pay committee thought Cowling deserved the first increase from 1 July 2020 and that its arrangements were in line with the company's approved pay policy.

The company said after consulting big investors it would postpone the next £25,000 pay rise scheduled for April and that it was unlikely to give Cowling the money before the end of the financial year in August.

WH Smith said: "We acknowledge that a significant minority of shareholders ... chose not to support this resolution. We will continue to actively engage with shareholders on executive remuneration to ensure their views are fully understood during 2021."

Investors are taking a hard line with companies over executive pay with profits down, dividends cut and jobs under threat in the Covid-19 crisis. WH Smith's results have been hit by its acquisition of US airport shopping group Marshall soon before the pandemic struck. The company has cut 1,500 jobs during the crisis.

The revolt was much bigger than the 12.2% vote against WH Smith's remuneration report in 2020 when investors objected to Cowling's 12.5% pension contribution. The company has agreed to reduce his pension contribution to the same level as the wider workforce - currently 3.5% - from the start of 2023.





Get in touch today
Join Redmayne Bentley
Talk to us now about opening a new account or transferring your account from another provider
0113 243 6941
Get in touch today
Contact your local office
Contact your local office to find out more
The value of your investments and the income from them may go down as well as up, and you could get back less than you invested.
Continuing our Personal Service: View our Latest COVID-19 Update: 30th April 2021
We use cookies on this site to improve your experience and help us provide you with a better website. An explanation of the cookies we use and their purpose can be found within our Cookie Policy. Your continued use of this site means you consent to the use of cookies.