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Myer suffers first strike on executive pay

 

Solomon Lew has struck a blow against Myer by securing a first strike against the department store chain's executive remuneration.

Mr Lew, whose retail group Premier Investments is Myer's biggest shareholder with a 10.8 per cent stake, opposed all of the beleaguered department store chain's resolutions at its annual general meeting on Friday.

Myer confirmed in a statement to the ASX that more than 25 per cent of shareholders had voted against the remuneration report.

The company said it was pleased incoming chairman Garry Hounsell and its two other nominated directors JoAnne Stephenson and Julie Morrison were all elected to the board with a "clear majority."

"Myer's shareholders have spoken, and as chairman of the company I am delighted with the clear mandate we have received to continue with the implementation of the New Myer strategy," Mr Hounsell said in the statement.

With final figures yet to be released, proxies shown at the meeting indicated about 29 per cent of votes went against Myer's remuneration report.

This sets Myer up for a possible second strike and board spill at its next AGM.

The ballot came after outgoing chairman Paul McClintock warned shareholders that Mr Lew's campaign against the board threatened to derail the company's transformation.

"I am most concerned that tactics employed by Premier threaten the successful transformation of this great business, for our customers, for our shareholders and, for our team members," Mr McClintock told the AGM.

"Today is your opportunity to send a strong message that you want the board and management to get on with the job of delivering New Myer (Myer's five-year turnaround plan)."

His pleas followed more bad news from Myer chief executive Richard Umbers who said there had been no trading improvement in the second quarter of 2017/18.

First-quarter sales fell 2.8 per cent, the company reported earlier in November.

Mr McClintock said Premier had asked Myer shareholders to believe that it had a superior strategy.

"I believe it was not a strategy for Myer. It was a strategy for Premier to run Myer for the benefit of Premier."

He said Premier, which owns Dotti, Peter Alexander and Just Jeans brands, wanted to install its own board directors so it could sell more of its brands' products in Myer's stores and benefit from the chain's attractive rentals in major shopping centres.

Myer in October rejected Premier's request to have three of its own nominated directors on the board.

Myer shares were down 0.7 per cent at 70.5 cents at 1421 AEDT.