Tim Martin wins re-election battle at JDW

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

Overwhelming support: despite concerns over spending money on political matters, shareholders voted to keep Tim Martin
Overwhelming support: despite concerns over spending money on political matters, shareholders voted to keep Tim Martin

Related tags: Wetherspoon chairman tim

Despite corporate governance warnings, Tim Martin has been backed in a re-election to the position of executive chairman at JD Wetherspoon.

Just 2% of shareholders voted against Brexiteer Martin despite the shareholder advisory firm Pirc recommendation of opposing his re-election.

Martin said: “I think common sense prevailed. Pirc were trying to uphold an academic theory that says a nine-year limit is best. But, excuse my language, it’s b******s.” 

Martin told shareholders that next month will mark 40 years since he founded the company.

He said: “Experience counts and is very important. Whether you’ve been on a board for 10 years or 40 years, if the company is doing well and you’re doing your job then you shouldn't be asked to leave just because of how long you’ve been on the board. 

“So what the 98% thought is that ‘Tim's been running the company for 40 years – it's not Microsoft, or Amazon, but it’s done well so don’t change a winning formula’.” 

Up the spout​ 

Martin continued: “The truth is not many people thought I would be re-elected.

“But in the surreal world of corporate governance, and the corporate governance advisers like Pirc, who are the people who recommended that I be fired were really making a symbolic gesture – probably for semi-political reasons, I think.

“The fact is, the corporate governance system is up the spout – it’s broken.

“But I was very pleased to be re-elected with 98% because that is the resounding factor.”

Pirc explained that Martin’s expenditure on what it saw as political comment was the reason for not recommending his re-election.

A Pirc spokesman said: “The more significant issue at Wetherspoon was the need for the company to explain if it should have sought shareholder approval for political expenditure and disclosed such expenditure in the relevant annual report.

“The board has still failed to adequately address these points. Unauthorised political spending is a breach of the Companies Act.

“We are continuing to investigate the implications of both issues.”  

Political expenditure 

Back in October, it was reported nationally that Martin’s pro-leave Brexit beer mats were in breach of company law for failing to seek shareholder approval before the EU referendum.

Martin, who owns 32% of the giant pub chain, spent £94,856 during the referendum campaign, including £18,000 on 1.5m Brexit beer mats.

According to the Electoral Commission records, £8,400 was spent on a further 200,000 mats and 200,000 more mats, 5,000 posters and 500,000 booklets cost an additional £68,186.

Under the Companies Act 2006 legislation, such spending is constituted as political expenditure and must be approved by shareholders.

Related topics: JD Wetherspoon

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