Myer avoids third strike

Sue Mitchell

Myer appears to have avoided a third strike against its remuneration report after tweaking executive remuneration and convincing some shareholders that its turnaround plan is on track.

About 19.07 per cent of shares voted before the annual meeting in Sydney on Wednesday were against the adoption of the remuneration report, below the 25 per cent threshold required to trigger a strike.

Myer incurred a 37.5 per cent vote against its remuneration report last year, triggering a second strike under the Corporations Act. However, it avoided a board spill.


Myer’s CEO John King and chairman Garry Hounsell. Supplied Supplied

The retailer was facing another protest vote this year, particularly from Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, which voted its 10.8 per cent stake against the remuneration report and the re-election of non-executive directors JoAnne Stephenson and Jacquie Naylor.

However, the retailer responded to shareholder concerns bymaking a number of changes to executive remunerationto head off another strike.

Under the changes,  chief executive John King and other senior executives will have a portion of their short term incentives under the 2020 short-term incentive (STI) plan deferred and paid in equity rather than cash.

Myer has also made changes to the comparison group of companies used to assess long-term incentive hurdles and has increased transparency around performance options granted to Mr King.

While the final vote is yet to be released, chairman Garry Hounsell said the ‘no’ vote reflected “broader issues not related to remuneration”, referring to the long running stoush with Mr Lew.

Mr Lew has been a vocal critic of Myer since Premier acquired a $101 million investment in the department store chain in March 2017 at $1.15 a share. Myer shares are trading at 55.5¢ but have recovered from lows of 36¢ in February.

Mr Lew’s representatives have dominated Myer’s annual meetings for the last two years, questioning the chairman on performance and the strength of the balance sheet, but did not ask a single question at the meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Hounsell and Mr King said Myer had made good progress on its turnaround plan but there was much more to do to transform the business and deliver returns for shareholders.

“John and the team continue to be focused on delivery and execution, not promises; and we are getting on with the job of executing against the plan to improve the performance of the business and deliver shareholder value,” Mr Hounsell said.

“This includes making progress on reducing excess space, improving merchandise range and service, and continuing to execute efficiencies leading to substantial cost savings.”

“We have made good progress in executing the customer first plan, but we recognise there is much more to be done,” he said.

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