Investors and shareholder advisory groups have criticised the pay package awarded to incoming Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland.

He will receive a £15m “golden hello”, including £7.5m of cash and shares in compensation for awards he would have been in line for at Morrisons up to 2012.

Morrisons could have retained Bolland until November, but yesterday released him to take up the Marks & Spencer role on May 1.

But investor advisory group Pirc described Bolland’s pay award as “excessive”, the Financial Times reported. The organisation said: “This is a bad start for the new regime at M&S.” One shareholder labelled the package “ridiculous”.

Bolland’s deal conforms with the terms of M&S’s existing pay structure. An M&S spokesperson defended Bolland’s pay and said: “We are paying the right package for the right man.”