Wagamama owner Restaurant Group roasted by shareholders over bosses’ pay

Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group scraped through its latest pay deal for bosses after shareholders revolted against the hospitality firm.

A number of investors, led by activist fund manager Oasis Management, protested against the “unpalatable” pay of the firm’s chief executive, Andy Hornby, after four years of losses.

Mr Hornby received a total pay package worth £792,000 for 2022, including an annual bonus of £125,000.

It came after the company posted an £86.8 million loss for the year.

On Tuesday, 45.5% of Restaurant Group shareholders voted against the company’s pay report for last year at the firm’s annual general meeting in London.

However, the company ultimately secured the majority approval needed to pass the deal.

There was also a shareholder revolt against the remuneration policy for directors, which will hand Mr Hornby and finance chief Kirk Davis a 2.5% salary increase this year. Almost 35% of investors voted against the policy.

There were also significant votes against the reappointment of company chairman Ken Hanna, director Zoe Morgan and Mr Hornby as chief.

In a statement, the company, which also owns the Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito chains, said: “It is noted that a significant minority did not support certain of the substantive remuneration resolutions.

“The remuneration committee intends to keep the remuneration policy under active review to ensure it remains appropriate to the group’s evolution and aligned to stakeholder interests and will provide an update on that review within the statutory six-month timescale.”

Oasis, which owns a 12.3% stake in the group, also wrote to the business last week to express its “deep concern regarding the equal treatment of shareholders”.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported over the weekend that Florida-based hedge fund and minor shareholder TMR Capital has also called for an overhaul at the business, proposing that the group sells all its operations apart from Wagamama.

Daniel Wosner, head of Europe at Oasis, said: “We are very pleased to see that our fellow shareholders have come out in force to share their discontent with both executive remuneration and TRG’s remuneration policy.

“The numbers tell the story. We will continue to seek constructive engagement with the company to strengthen its governance and enable it to be better aligned with the interests of all shareholders.”

Meanwhile, largest shareholder, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said: “As a long-term shareholder in The Restaurant Group (TRG), we remain supportive of TRG’s board and management team, who have successfully navigated the exceptionally tough industry backdrop.”

“The board continues to receive our support as they assess the best options to deliver long-term shareholder value.”

Richard Marwood, a senior fund manager at fellow shareholder Royal London Asset Management, said: “We are supportive of the management. Some of the views out there, that there is value to be crystallised by changing the structure of the group, are not lost on the management team.

“They are not intransigent and are working hard, both operationally and strategically, to create value for shareholders.”