One in three Burberry shareholders revolt against executive pay deal

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Biggest rebellion since 2014 as investors attack multimillion-pound deals and share awards for Christopher Bailey and finance chief Julie Brown.

A third of Burberry’s shareholders have failed to back the luxury brand’s remuneration report in a protest over high pay.

Investors representing just over 32% of voting shares rejected the report with more investors withholding their votes despite recent attempts to appease their anger by reducing overall pay deals.

The rebellion was the biggest since 2014, when more than half of shareholders voted against director pay at the British fashion house.

At Burberry’s annual meeting in central London on Thursday morning, the chairman, John Peace, defended the pay packages for key executives including Christopher Bailey, who was joint chief creative director and chief executive until last week, and the new chief operating officer and finance officer, Julie Brown.

Bailey’s total remuneration last year rose from £1.9m to £3.5m. While he waived his entitlement to any annual bonus for the year, his total was boosted by a £1.4m payout from an award of shares from a 2014 plan.

This month he will also receive shares worth £10.5m – 600,000 of the 1m shares he was awarded in 2013, when the company was concerned that he might be poached by a rival.

Brown, who joined from medical supplies group Smith & Nephew, was paid £4.7m between January and March 2017, including a golden hello of £4.5m consisting of £4m in shares and £550,000 in cash. However, she handed £1.6m of the award back after complaints from shareholder advisory groups.

Peace, who has signalled he will step down by the end of next year, said after the AGM: “My job is to work with the board and remuneration committee to do what’s right for the longer term. My job is to get the best we can for the company and I think in Julie we have an absolute star.”

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