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Tesco shareholders vote down £6.4m CEO departure package

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis. Photo: Associated Press

More than two thirds of investors voted against a £6.4m ($7.9m) departure package for Tesco (TSCO.L) boss Dave Lewis.

The "bloke who saved Tesco" was snubbed by shareholders in one of the biggest-ever FTSE 100 pay revolts on the supermarket group.

Voters were angry that Tesco had removed rival Ocado from its performance benchmark in order to boost board bonuses.

Independent advisory group Glass Lewis had urged shareholders to vote against the pay report which lifted Lewis' long-term bonus from £800,000 to £2.4m. 

Tesco's board were accused of being "completely out of step" with the views of shareholders, reports The Daily Mail.

Luke Hildyard of the High Pay Centre, said: "Moving the goalposts so blatantly to help the chief executive plunder more money at a moment of national economic crisis shows the Tesco board must be completely out of step." 

READ MORE: Tesco customers do fewer but bigger shops as sales rise

But the vote is not binding and to date Lewis has refused to hand back his bonus. He is due to step down in September and be replaced by Irish-born Walgreens Alliance Boots executive Ken Murphy.

Tesco reported an 8% increase in sales to £13.4bn in the three months to May, due to the coronavirus lockdown.

“Through a very challenging period for everyone, Tesco colleagues have gone above and beyond, and I'm extremely proud of what they've achieved,” chief executive Dave Lewis said in a statement on Friday.

“Their selfless efforts, combined with our embedded strategic advantages in stores and online, have helped to ensure that everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment.”

Owen is highly regarded for his role in turning the failing supermarket's fortune around, dragging it back into profit from a £6.4bn loss in 2014.

It is not the only company under fire for handing out large bonuses and profiting from the global pandemic.

Earlier this month a third of Morrisons (MRW.L) shareholders revolted, voting against a 24% pension contribution rate for chief executive David Potts and chief operating officer Trevor Strain.

And online retailer Boohoo (BOO.L) faced backlash from investors over plans to award bonuses and pay rises to its executives.