Daksh Gupta has confirmed that he and the rest of senior management at Marshall Motor Group have turned down their annual bonuses.
Gupta was speaking exclusively to Car Dealer Live after updating the Stock Market with news it would be repaying £4m in government support it received in 2021.
Gupta said he felt it was ‘morally right’ to return the money handed out during the pandemic and acknowledged the group’s performance last year would not have been possible without state intervention.
The huge numbers triggered an automatic bonus payment to the company’s senior management – but they unanimously decided against accepting the extra cash.
The situation offers a stark contrast to rivals Pendragon, whose bosses are set for bumper pay packets and bonuses after beating off a revolt among shareholders.
Filings from Vertu also reveal that the senior team, including CEO Robert Forrester, received bonuses for last year’s performance, part in cash and part in deferred shares.
Gupta, in a video interview you can watch above, said: ‘In terms of bonuses, that’s clearly a matter for remuneration committees to deal with.
‘I also think there is a degree of “how do you feel about it as an individual?”
‘It’s not for me to comment on others – it’s a personal decision for them and their boards.
‘I think from our perspective, last year we went into the year pre-pandemic, with an expectation of making £20m.
‘We ended up making £20.9m so arguably we triggered the bonus payments for the executive management team.
‘The management team took pay cuts through the pandemic so our moral compass did the right thing there.
‘We also rewarded our colleagues by enhancing payments during the furlough period and we also did not invoke caps of £2,500 for our people so you’ve got to look at all key stakeholders.
‘I think from our perspective, whilst yes we did exceed the targets, you also have to have a look and ask how we got there.
‘We know if you stripped out government support, we didn’t make those sort of number -–we claimed £20m worth of furlough.
‘Had we not taken that support, we would not have hit those sort of numbers so I felt – and our management team felt – it was inappropriate to take a bonus.
‘We appreciate people will have different perspectives on that and we respect their opinions but from our perspective I didn’t feel it was morally right and I’m proud that we voluntarily went to our board and said we did not want to take those bonuses and we took zero.’
Shareholders have questioned bonus payouts to executives for last year’s performances when they accepted government handouts and not paid out dividends.
Vertu’s Forrester told Car Dealer recently his group would not be repaying furlough cash. You can watch the video interview above.
Forrester said: ‘The government closed down our businesses by diktat with very little warning, causing considerable disruption and dislocation and they provided financial support to offset that.
‘That was what the support was there for – to make sure we didn’t come out of it in a much weaker position than we went in.
‘We are doing exactly what the government want us to do and that’s to use that money to reinvest and create jobs and be powerful as the economy grows.’
In the interview, which was conducted before Marshall announced its intentions, Forrester added he had no intention of repaying the £400k of support used so far this financial year and wouldn’t change his mind even if another dealer group decided to repay the money.