Chairmen outshine chief execs as retail supremos

Executive chairmen of FTSE retailers are better at delivering shareholder value than chief executives, according to research from Halliwell Consultants.

The corporate pay consultancy has discovered that a£1 investment in a retailer run by an executive chairman five years ago would now be worth£1.13, on average.

The same amount invested in a company run by a chief executive would now be worth an average of 82p.

Various prominent retailers have held the role of executive chairman, including, perhaps most famously, Luc Vandevelde, who turned around the fortunes of Marks & Spencer.

The position of chairman has come under increasing scrutiny lately. The Higgs report made the role of chairmen and non-executive directors a central issue, and created controversy across all six sectors.

Halliwell Consulting chief executive Marcus Peaker said: 'Despite the recommendations within the Higgs report, this information suggests that the promotion of the chief executive to executive chairman is not necessarily a bad thing.'

According to Halliwell, 13 of the 45 companies in the FTSE All Share General Retailers Index have executive chairmen. The report shows that retail executive chairmen have a stronger financial link to the companies they run than chief executives, and own shares of a median value of£20 million.

Chief executives have shares valued at a median£424,000.

Peaker also said executive chairmen, such as Matalan founder John Hargreaves - may also benefit from having worked for a longer period with a particular company.

A full version of the Halliwell findings are expected to be published a few weeks, covering various aspects of executive pay across all sectors.