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Morrisons hit by massive shareholder revolt over boss’s £1.7m bonus

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Morrisons was yesterday hit by one of the biggest shareholder revolts in UK corporate history.

More than 70 per cent of shareholders rejected the decision to hand chief executive Dave Potts, 63, a big bonus after profit halved in the pandemic.

The investor revolt follows a year of job losses, dividend cuts and unprecedented taxpayer support at Morrisons.

Revolt: More than 70 per cent of shareholders rejected the decision to hand chief executive Dave Potts (pictured) a£1.7m bonus following a year of job losses, dividend cuts at Morrisons

Potts received the maximum £1.7million bonus, despite profits falling to £165million from £435million the year before. 

He was also given stock worth £1.4million, which the company has argued he deserved after leading the grocer through the crisis.

The board upgraded his payout by stripping out the £290million cost of the pandemic when calculating his rewards, which pushed his bonus up to 200 per cent of salary, and handed him a total pay packet of £4.2million.

The grocer said: ‘Morrisons performed exceptionally well for the nation during the first year of Covid with the executives widely recognised for their leadership, clarity, decisiveness, compassion and speed of both decision-making and execution.

‘It is a matter of sincere regret to the committee that it clearly has not been able to convince a majority of shareholders – or the proxy voting agencies – that this was the right course of action.’

Shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis had said the adjustments were ‘not supportable’ while ISS said it had ‘serious concerns’.

Morrisons had been lauded for handing back £230million in business rates relief. The shareholder vote is advisory, meaning it is under no obligation to cut the pay.

The revolt is one of the largest at a UK public company, outstripping the 65 per cent of shareholders who rejected Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn’s £75million in 2018, and on a par with the backlash against Royal Mail’s Rico Back the same year.

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Best of the Best shares tumble 30% despite tripling profits

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Shares in Best of the Best tumbled by around 30 per cent after the online competition company said it had seen a decline in customer interest recently, overshadowing its stellar annual results.

Best of the Best, which specialises in luxury sports car ‘raffles’ where people buy tickets hoping to win expensive automobiles, saw profits more than triple last year, its results show. 

Pre-tax profits rose to £14million in the year to the end of April, from £4.2million the year before, after revenues rose to £45.7million, from £17.8million.

Stellar performance: Best of the Best, which specialises in luxury sports car ‘raffles’ where people buy tickets hoping to win expensive automobile, saw profits triple last year

In light of the strong performance, the company hiked its final dividend to 5p per share from 3p, with investors also in line for a special dividend of 50p worth a total of £4.71million.  

But shares in the AIM listed company tumbled by more than 30 per cent at one point this morning. They were down by 27.8 per cent to £19 by midday on Wednesday. 

However, they still remain some 60 per cent higher than last year, and have seen their value jump by around 500 per cent over the past two years.

The massive drop comes as the company said it has seen ‘somewhat of a reduction’ in interest from customers since the lifting of lockdown restrictions in April when shops and restaurants reopened.

Chief executive William Hindmarch said: ‘We are closely monitoring this, but with our flexible model, growth strategy and plans for the year ahead, we expect customer engagement to return to normal levels before too long.’   

Best of the Best closed its last physical competition site at Birmingham airport in July 2019 after 20 years of leasing physical sites at airports and shopping centres across the country. 

These included Heathrow Airport, where its first physical site was located, as well as Gatwick, Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin airports, and later on, Westfield Shopping Centre in London. 

Hindmarch said that with the benefit of hindsight, the online move was ‘opportune’, given the restrictions on travel that have been in place due to the pandemic. 

‘Having made the strategic decision to exit our predominantly airport-based retail estate and concentrate on a pure online strategy, we have been able to tailor our business, product and pricing specifically to a much more scalable, online only proposition,’ he added.  

BOTB was set up in 1999 and started to take off thanks to the power of social media

BOTB was set up by Hindmarch in 1999 and started to take off thanks to the power of social media. 

People taking part in the competition have to place a marker where they think a football was in a photograph before it was cleverly edited out.  

Its ‘Dream Car’ competition allows customers to buy tickets from £1.60 to win supercars like Jaguars and Tesla, while tickets for its ‘Midweek Car Competition’ start at just 80p.

Customers can also take part in ‘Weekly Lifestyle Competition’ to win luxury watches, motorbikes, holidays and other gadgets. 

Stellar rise: BOTB shares tumbled today, but they are still about 60% higher than last year and have risen by about 500% over the past two years

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ONS: Average UK house price dropped £5k in April but boom isn’t over

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House prices dipped in April as buyers lowered their offers in anticipation of the stamp duty holiday ending, official figures have shown.  

The average property value fell 1.9 per cent between March and April according to the Office for National Statistics’ April House Price Index. 

This meant the average house price fell back around £5,000 to £250,772 – although it was still up £20,000 compared to April 2020, delivering an annual property inflation rate of almost 9 per cent.

The average UK house price has risen 8.9 per cent over the past year, says the ONS

The average house price peaked in March at £256,000, according to the ONS report

Year-on-year, the typical home has increased in value by 8.9 per cent to reach £250,772 since last April, the index revealed. 

However, the rate of growth slowed compared to the previous month when prices rose 9.9 per cent annually.

Housing market experts have said the monthly dip in house prices was a result of buyers putting in lower offers in February and March, when they believed the Government’s stamp duty holiday was going to end on 31 March.

Buyers sought to make up for the fact that they would no longer be making the tax saving, which is up to £15,000 –  although it was later extended at the start of that month.  

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘House prices dropped in April, which is bound to unsettle homeowners after almost a year of accelerating price rises. 

‘However, this isn’t necessarily the beginning of the end for house price growth, it’s more likely to be a sign of what an arbitrary deadline can do to a market.

‘At this stage we’re not expecting this to be the ultimate turning point for the market, but it’s a useful wake-up call for buyers, and a reminder that house prices aren’t a one-way street.’

The stamp duty holiday was introduced in July 2020 and means that home buyers do not pay the tax on the proportion of a property purchase under £500,000. 

This will continue until 1 July, when the threshold will decrease to £250,000. It will return to the usual level of £125,000 on 1 October.  

This four-bed home in Bath was developed from a folly built in the 1820s. It is listed on Rightmove at £1million, and agents say it has ‘far-reaching views and extensive gardens’

In Staveley near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, this two-bed property complete with sun deck is listed on Rightmove with a guide price of £250,000

Buyers in Chichester, West Sussex, can snap up this four-bed, three bath property which has a guide price of £815,000. It comes with a detached, self-contained garden studio

Downsizers might consider this two-bed bungalow in Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which is listed on Rightmove with an asking price of £180,000

In Pembury near Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, this four-bed, two bath semi detached home is on the market with an asking price of £625,000. It comes with a large detached outbuilding

Another reason for the recent price growth is high levels of demand for moving house compared to relatively little supply, which was noted in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ April 2021 UK Residential Market Survey.

Some experts say that this could help to maintain house price momentum throughout the summer months, even after the incentive of the stamp duty holiday is reduced.  

Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer at Gatehouse Bank, said: ‘The original stamp duty discount deadline of March has made itself felt with a monthly dip in house prices, but annual growth is still remarkable.

‘There remains a shortage properties coming onto the market in many areas, resulting in intense competition in some cases, and this factor is likely to keep prices pushing upwards throughout the summer.’

Rise and fall: A graph showing house price changes by country since 2017

The UK Property Transactions Statistics showed that in April 2021, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the estimated number of transactions of residential properties with a value of £40,000 or greater was 117,860. 

This is 179.6 per cent higher than a year ago. Between March and April 2021, UK transactions decreased by 35.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

House price growth was strongest in the North East where prices increased by 16.9 per cent in the year to April 2021, according to the ONS. 

The lowest annual growth was in London, where prices increased by 3.3 per cent. 

House prices in London are still the highest in the UK, but they dropped from an average of £500,000 in March to an average of £492,000 in April.

At the country level, the largest annual house price growth in the year to April 2021 was recorded in Wales, where house prices increased by 15.6 per cent.

Given the dramatic house price increases of the last year, buyers are being urged to consider whether they are paying over the odds for their homes. 

Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: ‘House prices are continuing to grow due to extremely high demand caused by the rush to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline. 

‘While this is great news for those selling a home, buyers are likely paying over the odds when compared with previous years. 

‘As such, any savings from the Stamp Duty Holiday might well be absorbed by the current high cost of homes. 

‘Buyers should look beyond the headline savings and really consider if this is the right choice for them.’

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Average UK house price drops £5k in April – but experts say property boom not over

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UK house prices dipped in April as buyers lowered their offers in anticipation of the stamp duty holiday ending, official figures have shown.  

Prices fell 1.9 per cent between March and April according to the Office for National Statistics’ April House Price Index. 

This meant the average house price fell back around £5,000 to £250,772 – although it was still up £20,000 compared to April 2020.

The average UK house price is now more than £250,000, according to official data 

Year on year, the typical home has increased in value by 8.9 per cent to reach £250,772 since last April, the index revealed. 

However, the rate of growth slowed compared to the previous month when prices rose 9.9 per cent annually.

Housing market experts have said the monthly dip in house prices was a result of buyers putting in lower offers in February and March, when they believed the Government’s stamp duty holiday was going to end on 31 March.

Buyers sought to make up for the fact that they would no longer be making the tax saving, which is up to £15,000 –  although it was later extended at the start of that month.  

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘House prices dropped in April, which is bound to unsettle homeowners after almost a year of accelerating price rises. 

‘However, this isn’t necessarily the beginning of the end for house price growth, it’s more likely to be a sign of what an arbitrary deadline can do to a market.

‘At this stage we’re not expecting this to be the ultimate turning point for the market, but it’s a useful wake-up call for buyers, and a reminder that house prices aren’t a one-way street.’

The stamp duty holiday was introduced in July 2020 and means that home buyers do not pay the tax on the proportion of a property purchase under £500,000. 

This will continue until 1 July, when the threshold will decrease to £250,000. It will return to the usual level of £125,000 on 1 October.  

Another reason for the recent price growth is high levels of demand for moving house compared to relatively little supply, which was noted in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ April 2021 UK Residential Market Survey.

Some experts say that this could help to maintain house price momentum throughout the summer months, even after the incentive of the stamp duty holiday is reduced.  

Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer at Gatehouse Bank, said: ‘The original stamp duty discount deadline of March has made itself felt with a monthly dip in house prices, but annual growth is still remarkable.

Rise and fall: A graph showing house price changes by country since 2017

‘There remains a shortage properties coming onto the market in many areas, resulting in intense competition in some cases, and this factor is likely to keep prices pushing upwards throughout the summer.’

The UK Property Transactions Statistics showed that in April 2021, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the estimated number of transactions of residential properties with a value of £40,000 or greater was 117,860. 

This is 179.6 per cent higher than a year ago. Between March and April 2021, UK transactions decreased by 35.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

House price growth was strongest in the North East where prices increased by 16.9 per cent in the year to April 2021, according to the ONS. 

The lowest annual growth was in London, where prices increased by 3.3 per cent. 

House prices in London are still the highest in the UK, but they dropped from an average of £500,000 in March to an average of £492,000 in April.

At the country level, the largest annual house price growth in the year to April 2021 was recorded in Wales, where house prices increased by 15.6 per cent.

Given the dramatic house price increases of the last year, buyers are being urged to consider whether they are paying over the odds for their homes. 

Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: ‘House prices are continuing to grow due to extremely high demand caused by the rush to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline. 

‘While this is great news for those selling a home, buyers are likely paying over the odds when compared with previous years. 

‘As such, any savings from the Stamp Duty Holiday might well be absorbed by the current high cost of homes. 

‘Buyers should look beyond the headline savings and really consider if this is the right choice for them.’

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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