Marks & Spencer shareholders have voted against a special resolution calling for executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose to step down 12 months early, in July 2010.

62.3 per cent of M&S shareholders voted against the motion with 37.7 voting in favour. 75 per cent would have been required for the motion to be carried.

It follows a surprisingly tame annual general meeting this afternoon, where shareholders’ concerns ranged from the availability of men’s thermal underwear, to paying for plastic bags, to Rose saying he will auction off a 25lb pork pie.

At the meeting, deputy chairman Sir David Michels said that the retailer would appoint a new chief executive in 2010, at which point Rose will become chairman for a short time to ensure a “smooth transition”. Rose will step down as chairman some time before July 2011 as previously stated.

Rose told Retail Week that he was pleased with the result. He said: “I thought we’d win, we did win. It’s back to work tomorrow and start again”.