Marks & Spencer on Monday announced it would offer its UK-based private investors, who number more than 190,000, to join a scheme enabling them to accept their next dividend payments in the form of a ‘M&S Shareholder Card.’ The Guardian reports that the card will work much like a standard gift card by offering up to £1000 in store credit.
Customers will need to sign up in order to get the card, and will receive their dividend in cash if they do not. Those who do accept the card will get a 10 percent discount in stores using the card – and Marks & Spencer will get kudos for paying out a dividend while also making sure that some of its money is reinvested into its bottom line.
Amanda Mellor, M&S group secretary, told The Guardian that the group’s private investors were also some of its most loyal customers.
“Investors will be able to choose how much of their dividend they wish to use to buy an M&S shareholder card, with any remaining dividend balance paid as normal.”
Comments on The Guardian’s website included this one from “RolandGilead”: “I own a few M&S shares but can't afford to shop there as tgeir (sic) dividends have been so crap for so long......how ironic.”
Orsola Del Sante-Bland, who is the financial controller for Wellington department store Kirkaldie & Stains, says the offer of gift cards in lieu of dividends is one of the options her company's board of directors could consider in order to return funds to shareholders that are also private investors.
"Although the scheme is very appealing, it must be carefully considered and the benefits weighted against its administration costs."