‘Financially illiterate’: Tim Martin has a scathing assessment of Glass Lewis advisory service
Tim Martin, the boss of JD Wetherspoon pubs, has launched a broadside against shareholder adviser Glass Lewis, after it said investors should vote against the company’s pay policy.
Glass Lewis, which is the second-biggest shareholder advisory service in the world, raised concerns about a “significant” increase in pay for the pub group’s finance chief for the third year running.
Read more: Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin slams ‘elite Remainers’ as profit sinks
It said high pay could become a “crutch” if the company’s financial performance drops below its current high levels. Finance chief Ben Whitley was given a 15.4 per cent pay increase last year, bringing his salary to £220,000. Investors will get to vote on the policy at the firm’s annual general meeting later on 21 November.
Martin, however, accused the group of “financial illiteracy” and said it was talking “complete bollocks”.
“The finance director was an internal appointment, who started from a low base and is increasing over a number of years towards what I hope will be a slightly lower level than the overpaid FDs in the sector generally,” he said.
The story was first reported by the Sunday Times.
Martin, an outspoken supporter of a no-deal Brexit, founded the pub chain in 1979. He has grown it into a £1.8bn revenue business, which last year enjoyed a 6.8 per cent rise in like-for-like sales.
Read more: Wetherspoons toasts no-deal Brexit by slashing the price of a pint
This is the second successive year Glass Lewis has recommended shareholders vote against Wetherspoons’ pay policy. Last year, it was joined by fellow adviser ISS in coming out against it, prompting nearly one-sixth of shareholders to vote against it.
Martin, 64, attacked comments by Glass Lewis on a lack of performance targets for some share awards. “The most toxic and damaging aspect of corporate governance is the obsession with targets,” he said. “In the pub sector they cause people to underpay staff, not to carry out essential repairs, and to try to artificially enhance profits.”