(Bloomberg) -- Marks & Spencer Group Plc suffered a revolt after a large minority of shareholders objected to a £2.6 million ($3 million) pay package for the outgoing Chief Executive Officer Steve Rowe. 

Investors controlling about 29% of the shares in the UK retail chain voted against the remuneration report, in the latest evidence of shareholders objecting to seemingly excessive management pay as Britain battles a cost-of-living crisis. The vote was non-binding. 

M&S said it was right to award the bonus to Rowe who had worked at M&S for nearly four decades, according to a statement Tuesday. The retailer, a stalwart of Britain’s main streets, said all eligible staff had received a bonus this year -- the first since 2017 -- after a solid improvement in profit and it would have been “wholly wrong” to exclude Rowe who had overseen the chain’s recovery. 

“To have denied him the bonus because he helped support an orderly and organised succession that was announced just three weeks before the year-end would have shown bad faith to a great servant of the business and would not have been in any way in shareholders’ interests,” the company said. 

Rowe officially stepped down from his role earlier this year but is still acting as an adviser to the new leadership team. His remuneration included a £1.6 million bonus, half of which will be deferred into shares and released in three years. He will also be paid a full salary and benefits until 2023, but won’t be eligible for a bonus next year. 

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M&S said it has begun talks with those who opposed the report, but insisted that “the majority of shareholders were right in their judgment” to support the pay plan.

Investors are increasingly using annual general meetings to vent concerns, most often over pay. Already this season, companies including Boohoo Group Plc, Tesco Plc and Ocado Group Plc have met significant investor opposition to key resolutions including pay and bonuses.

On Thursday, J Sainsbury Plc faces a vote that could force the grocer to commit to worker wage levels calculated by a campaigning organization. The supermarket has advised shareholders to vote against the resolution.

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