Wordled: Marks and Spencer's annual report

As Tuesday's torrential rain provided respite to sweaty Londoners after a week of baking sunshine, nowhere were the clouds thicker than over Kensington's Royal Albert Hall, where the annual general meeting (AGM) of one of the UK's best-loved companies was set to take place the next day.

It's not the first time someone in Rose's position has been criticised

The group's magnetic executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose was reported to be in trouble: shareholders were criticising the board's decision to merge the roles of chief executive and chairman, and there were whispers shareholders would demand Rose rescinded his chairman role before his tenure is up in 2011.

As it turned out, though, the AGM turned out to be rather a pleasant affair. 62% of shareholders voted to keep Rose in, and the floor was opened to questions which, as the BBC reported it, mostly concerned thermal underwear and the state of in-store toilets.

How has Rose retained his allure, despite reports of shareholder dissent? Smarta Wordled the company's 2009 annual report to see if it could come up with some clues.

Group (72 mentions)

M&S is indeed a strong group: despite market conditions which had proven fatal for some of its competitors, its international sales grew by more than a quarter last year. At home, things weren't quite so rosy, though: sales dropped by 3.5% in clothes and 0.1% in food. At the time, Rose experienced criticism from shareholders - but a renewed approach to marketing (who could forget the company's 'we boobed' campaign?) should even things out.

Director (71 mentions)

So where is the board of directors in all this? While Rose has been coming under fire from various camps, it seems to us the directors have sat back and enjoyed being out of the limelight. But as Rose pointed out to Smarta on Tuesday, 'it's not just about Stuart Rose' - and the board of directors as a whole were forced to face the music yesterday.

Executive (65 mentions)

As in, executive chairman - the name given to Rose's role which incorporates duties of both chief executive and chairman. While the motion to split the roles was defeated, one shareholder said the outcry had been a 'wake up call for the board', who have been accused of contravening the company's combined code on corporate governance. It's not the first time someone in Rose's position has been criticised - in the words of BBC business editor Robert Peston: "This company seems to find it impossible to pick chairmen or chief executives without sparking controversy and alienating important groups of shareholders".

Read M&S' annual report or create your own Wordle.

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