Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe suffers bruising from shareholders at AGM

Sainsbury's Deliveroo
// Shareholders let rip on Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe during the AGM yesterday
// They were unhappy about his £3.9m pay packet in light of the failed merger with Asda
// However, he was re-elected by 99.5% of investors who voted at the AGM

Sainsbury’s shareholders did not hold back their anger at chief executive Mike Coupe over his £3.9 million pay deal during the retailer’s first AGM since its merger with Asda failed.

The £12 billion merger, which was blocked by the CMA in April, was described as a “complete fiasco” by frustrated shareholders who have seen the Big 4 grocer’s share price plummet by 38 per cent in the last 12 months.

Shares in Sainsbury’s also fell to a 30-year low in May.

Despite the anger from some shareholders over his pay deal, Coupe was also re-elected by 99.5 per cent of investors who voted at the AGM yesterday.

Proxy votes also showed that Sainsbury’s remuneration policy was backed with more than 90 per cent of shareholder support.

The grocer’s board of directors awarded Coupe, who has led Sainsbury’s since 2014, the £3.9 million annual pay packet – an increase of seven per cent from the previous year.

One angered investor, John Farmer, let rip on Sainsbury’s “useless” bosses for receiving large pay packets despite the merger failure, calling for a “resumption of competence”.

Another shareholder called on chairman Martin Scicluna to fire Coupe for delivering a “blunderingly poor performance”.

Scicluna, who joined Sainsbury’s earlier this year, said he is not looking for a new chief executive and described Coupe as a leader with “great values and great integrity”.

Prior to the AGM, shareholder advisory groups expressed concerns over bonuses, especially with the falling share price.

“The committee have failed to outline the impact, if any, of the failed deal on the bonus outcomes of the executives, particularly in light of share price performance as a direct result,” advisory body Glass Lewis said.

The board also faced criticism over pricing from another shareholder, who said that, despite working at Sainsbury’s for 25 years, she now buys groceries at Aldi because they are “more affordable”.

Coupe said Sainsbury’s has lowered prices on more than 1000 food and grocery items in the past eight weeks to win over shoppers amid intense pressure from fast-growing rivals Aldi and Lidl.

The AGM also took place a day after Sainsbury’s revealed that its sales continued to tumble during the first four months of the year.

The retailer saw like-for-like sales decline by 1.6 per cent in the 16 weeks to June 29, as its decline accelerated from 0.9 per cent in the previous quarter.

Total retail sales fell by 1.2 per cent during the period, which the grocer attributed to a “tough retail environment”.

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