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Grafton Group shareholders approve directors’ pay hike

By John Mulligan

Shareholders in Grafton Group, which operates builders’ merchant MacBlair in Northern Ireland, have endorsed pay and incentive structures for directors including chief executive Gavin Slark.

At the company’s annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday, 96.9% of votes cast were in favour of its new remuneration policy.

Grafton Group owns 16 branches of MacBlair in the province. The outcome was despite the influential UK shareholder advisory group PIRC last month criticising plans to increase the amount that Mr Slark and other key management can earn under Grafton’s long-term incentive plan.

Grafton was the latest Irish firm to come under the spotlight of shareholder advisory groups.

PIRC had also argued that the change in Mr Slark’s total pay over the past five years was “not commensurate” with the total change in the company’s total shareholder return on the same period.

But Mr Slark’s pay increased 30% between 2012 and 2015, while the total shareholder return in the same period was 300%. At the annual general meeting, 99.5% of votes cast endorsed Grafton’s remuneration report.

Grafton Group reported a strong start to the year, with revenues up 7.7% to £851m and by 6.1% on a like-for-like basis in the first four months of the year.

It warned that prospects in the UK remain highly uncertain given political and economic developments there. But it said that its UK merchanting business performed well in the first four months, with revenue rising 2.5% in the period. Average daily like-for-like store growth was up 4.8%. Grafton said its UK arm benefited from measures designed to improve profitability, including a restructuring plan implemented late last year.

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