Next defends chair after shareholder rebellion

Michael Roney

Enderby retail giant Next has faced down a significant shareholder rebellion at its AGM after more than a fifth its shareholders voted against the re-election of its chair Michael Roney.

In line with the rules of the 2018 UK Corporate Governance Code, Next undertook a consultation process with shareholders to try and understand their reasons for voting against the re-election of Roney in May of this year.

Next’s findings included discovering that the level of votes against Roney’s re-election were primarily due to him being considered as “overboarded” with a secondary concern relating to the gender make up of the board.

A statement from Next said: “The board accepts that some investors apply a stricter voting policy than the market generally in relation to chair and directorship roles on the boards of listed companies.

“Mr. Roney provides more than enough time to his role as chair and effectively discharges the functions and obligations of the role. He has attended all board and committee meetings held in the past three years.

“He is always available when required as was evident in the Group’s response to the pandemic and his involvement in the major strategic decisions made by the Board in recent years.”

Roney brings “significant experience” to his role at Next, the company said, adding: “[He] provides clear direction and leadership to the board and the board believes that his continuing appointment as chair is for the benefit of all stakeholders in the company.”

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