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Fri 6th Sep 2019 - Greene King shareholders rebel over Anand pay-off, Nando's appoints new UK chief executive
Greene King shareholders rebel over £850,000 Anand pay-off: Shareholders at brewer and retailer Greene King have rebelled over the £850,000 pay-off given to former chief executive Rooney Anand. At the company’s annual general meeting today (Friday, 5 September), almost a third (32.54%) voted against approving the company’s remuneration report. Their opposition centred on the £850,000 paid to Anand to secure new settlement terms over his planned departure – because his contract was “inadequate”. Despite the opposition, the resolution secured the required number of votes to be passed. Greene King stated: “We are disappointed by this result, which we believe reflects some of our shareholders being aligned to the recommendation of one of the proxy voting agencies on this resolution, although other agencies and the majority of our leading shareholders (with whom we communicated with prior to the meeting) were supportive. We understand some of our shareholders have concerns regarding the arrangements made for our former chief executive’s departure from Greene King. However, as we disclosed in our directors’ remuneration report, there were specific commercial reasons for the arrangements made (relating to our former chief executive’s historic contractual terms and lack of restrictive covenants) and we believe the arrangements were necessary and appropriate to secure the best outcome for the company and its shareholders. The service contracts for all current directors conform to market expectations. The remuneration committee will reflect on the results of this vote. As we have stated in our 2019 directors’ remuneration report, it is our intention to engage with our larger shareholders and proxy agencies as we review our directors’ remuneration policy during 2019-20 ahead of its planned renewal at the 2020 AGM, although this process is likely be influenced by whether shareholders approve the recommended cash offer by CK Noble (UK) for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Greene King, which was announced on 19 August.” As Propel exclusively revealed, the company’s annual report showed Anand remained on the same contractual terms from his original 2004 letter of appointment. Specifically, Anand was required to give Greene King only six months’ notice, which could have left the company “exposed” in the process of finding an appropriate successor. The contract also had no terms of what would “now be regarded as standard post-termination restrictive covenants that posed a real risk to the company’s business at a time of leadership transition”. These included joining mainstream competitors and non-solicitation of employees.

Nando’s appoints Hill as UK and Ireland chief executive: Nando’s has appointed Colin Hill, formerly head of sister company All About Food (AAF), as chief executive of its UK and Ireland business, Propel has learned. Hill, who quietly took up his new role earlier this year, has been chief executive of AAF, which handles Nando’s grocery business in the UK, for the past three years. Hill previously spent five years at supermarket chain Asda, including half that time as vice-president of grocery trading and food merchandising, plus 14 years at Tesco. Propel understands he joined Nando’s circa 420-strong UK and Ireland business earlier this summer before undergoing a ten-week induction before officially taking over from Rob Papps. Earlier this year Papps, who had led Nando’s UK and Ireland for eight years and been with the peri-peri chicken operator for 20 years in total, took over as Nando’s group chief executive from Andrew Lynch, former group chief executive of SSP. Lynch, who joined Nando’s in 2014 as group chief executive, became chairman. Regarding Hill’s appointment, Papps told Propel: “I am delighted we have been able to find someone to lead this very special business who is inspired by the same vision that people should be genuinely at the heart of everything a business does.” Nando’s recently opened a second site under its smaller Nino format in London. The group launched the first trial site under the format, which is designed to appeal to consumers looking for “delivery, takeaway, a quick bite with friends or simply a faster, on-the-go experience of the brand”, in Twickenham at the start of last year. A second site has now opened at 348 Fulham Road. It is thought Nando’s is looking to roll out the new smaller format to areas where its estate of more than 400 restaurants currently doesn’t reach but the demand for eat-in and delivery is still strong.

JD Wetherspoon cuts cost of pint by 20p: JD Wetherspoon pubs across the UK have cut the cost of a pint by 20p, with the company citing it as an example of how leaving the EU customs union could reduce prices. More than 600 of the company’s pubs are now serving a pint of Ruddles – brewed by Greene King – for £1.69. A further 160 pubs are offering a pint for £1.59 or below, including 36 pubs that will serve a pint for £1.39. The remaining pubs will serve a pint for between £1.99 and £2.89 depending on the individual pub’s location. This includes pubs in central London. Chairman Tim Martin said: “Customers and businesses pay tariffs on thousands of products that are imported from outside the EU. These tariffs are collected by the UK government and sent to Brussels. Provided we leave the customs union on 31 October, the government can end these protectionist tariffs, which will reduce prices in supermarkets and pubs. To illustrate this point, Wetherspoon has decided to reduce the price of Ruddles bitter, brewed by Greene King. A lot of politicians have misled the public by suggesting leaving the customs union would be a ‘cliff edge’ or ‘disaster’. This is the reverse of the truth. Ending tariffs will reduce prices.”

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