Shareholders revolt over Wagamama owner boss’s pay package
The Restaurant Group, which owns the Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s chains, has suffered a sizeable shareholder revolt over a lucrative new pay deal for its chief executive, Andy Hornby,in a year when the company has closed hundreds of restaurants and made thousands of staff redundant.
The company said its new remuneration policy had been approved by shareholders, but nearly 37% voted against.
Hornby, the boss of HBOS bank in 2008 when it had to be rescued by Lloyds Banking Group during the financial crisis, and TRG’s finance director, Kirk Davis, waived their annual bonuses and took pay cuts of 40% and 20% respectively this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the company’s new pay policy has drawn heavy criticism, as it comes after it shut 200 branches permanently with the loss of nearly 4,500 jobs. Along with the rest of the hospitality sector, TRG has been hit hard by the pandemic, which led to the temporary closure of restaurants and pubs and pushed the company into a £235m pre-tax loss for the first half.
Hornby is in line for a share award of £787,500 this year, taking his total maximum pay packet to £1.3m, even after his pandemic-related temporary pay cut.
Next year, he will once again qualify for a £945,000 cash bonus plus a share award equal to his £630,000 basic salary, taking his maximum package to £2.2m. Davis will be paid £788,000 this year and is in line for £1.3m next year.
Debbie Hewitt, TRG’s chairman, said the firm had engaged “extensively” with a number of its shareholders before proposing the new policy and was pleased that the majority had backed it.
“We recognise that some shareholders did not support the proposal,” she said. “We will continue engaging with our shareholders in the coming months.”
She said TRG had already made concessions, lowering next year’s share award to 100% of salary. It was previously 200% of salary. The share awards will not pay out for three years.
Hewitt added: “In the short term the senior team continue to take pay cuts while the company is still making use of the government’s job retention furlough scheme.”
TRG’s pubs and restaurants, especially Wagamama, have managed to attract more customers in recent weeks and sales have improved markedly, partly boosted by the government’s ‘“eat out to help out” scheme in August. However, TRG said the recently imposed 10pm curfew has hurt business.
• Sign up to the daily Business Today email here or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk.
Source: Read Full Article