All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers has been dealt a blow by investors amid a backlash against pay plans for top executives and corporate governance at the group.

The pub firm - which also owns Toby Carvery and Harvester as well as the Horse Shoe bar in Glasgow - revealed that nearly a fifth of shareholders (17.5%) voted against its executive pay plans at its annual general meeting today.

While the policy was approved, with 82.5% of investor votes cast in favour, it saw a sizeable protest, with a further 62,000 withheld votes failing to back the plans.

In a further shareholder revolt, Mitchells saw significant votes made against the re-election of a raft of directors including chairman Bob Ivell.

A quarter of shareholder votes opposed the re-election of Mr Ivell, who has been in the role since May 2011 - far longer than the nine-year cap stipulated in the UK Corporate Governance Code.

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The stinging AGM result comes as Mitchells faces anger over its proposals to replace a performance-based share scheme with guaranteed annual awards.

Influential shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recently recommended investors vote against Mitchells' pay policy, warning that "compelling rationale has not been provided to explain how the introduction of the restricted share plan is relevant to the company's operations and strategy".

The pay controversy follows shortly after the firm's £350 million capital raise to help it weather the devastating effects of the pandemic, with restrictions forcing its sites to close for most of the past year.

Mitchells revealed in February that it was burning through between £30 million and £35 million every four weeks during national lockdowns and restrictions.

In response to the AGM results, Mitchells said: "The UK Corporate Governance Code contains best practice recommendations in relation to corporate governance yet acknowledges that, in individual cases, these will not all necessarily be appropriate for particular companies."

In its annual report, it said it had decided Mr Ivell should remain in place as chairman.

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HeraldScotland: Richard MuirRichard Muir

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