Stein Mart DEF 14A 2012
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
SCHEDULE 14A INFORMATION
Proxy Statement Pursuant to Section 14(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
(Amendment No. )
Filed by the Registrant x Filed by a Party other than the Registrant ¨
Check the appropriate box:
STEIN MART, INC.
(Name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(Name of person(s) filing proxy statement, if other than the registrant)
Payment of Filing Fee (Check the appropriate box):
Stein Mart, Inc.
NOTICE AND PROXY STATEMENT
NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS
TO BE HELD JUNE 19, 2012
TO OUR SHAREHOLDERS:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the annual meeting of shareholders of Stein Mart, Inc. will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, at 2:00 P.M., local time, at The Museum of Science and History, 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Florida 32207.
The meeting will be held for the following purposes:
The shareholders of record at the close of business on April 13, 2012, will be entitled to vote at the annual meeting.
It is hoped you will be able to attend the meeting, but in any event, please vote according to the instructions on the enclosed proxy as promptly as possible. If you are able to be present at the meeting, you may revoke your proxy and vote in person.
Important Notice Regarding the Availability of Proxy Materials for the Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be Held on June 19, 2012: The 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and proxy statement of Stein Mart, Inc. are available online at www.proxyvote.com.
For directions to the annual meeting, please contact Ms. Linda Tasseff, Director, Investor Relations and Special Projects, at email@example.com.
Dated: April 30, 2012
Proxy Statement for the
Annual Meeting of Shareholders of
STEIN MART, INC.
To Be Held on Tuesday, June 19, 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Stein Mart, Inc.
1200 Riverplace Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32207
PROXY STATEMENT FOR ANNUAL MEETING OF
SHAREHOLDERS TO BE HELD JUNE 19, 2012
This Proxy Statement and the enclosed form of proxy are being sent to shareholders of Stein Mart, Inc. on or about April 30, 2012 in connection with the solicitation by our Board of Directors of proxies to be used at our annual meeting of shareholders. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 2:00 P.M., local time, at The Museum of Science and History, 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Florida 32207.
The Board of Directors has designated Jay Stein and John H. Williams, Jr., and each or either of them, as proxies to vote the shares of common stock solicited on its behalf.
Why did I receive these materials?
Our Board of Directors is soliciting proxies for our 2012 annual meeting of shareholders. You are receiving a proxy statement because you owned shares of our common stock on the record date, April 13, 2012, and that entitles you to vote at our meeting of shareholders. By use of a proxy, you can vote whether or not you attend the meeting. This proxy statement describes the matters on which we would like you to vote and provides information on those matters so that you can make an informed decision.
What information is contained in this proxy statement?
The information in this proxy statement relates to the proposals to be voted on at the annual meeting, the voting process, our Board and Board committees, the compensation of directors and executive officers and other information that the Securities and Exchange Commission requires us to provide annually to our shareholders.
Who is entitled to vote at the meeting?
Holders of common stock as of the close of business on the record date, April 13, 2012, will receive notice of, and be eligible to vote at, our annual meeting of shareholders and at any adjournment or postponement of such meeting. At the close of business on the record date, we had outstanding and entitled to vote 43,301,489 shares of common stock.
How many votes do I have?
Each outstanding share of our common stock you owned as of the record date will be entitled to one vote for each matter considered at the meeting. There is no cumulative voting.
Who can attend the meeting?
Only persons with evidence of stock ownership as of the record date or who are our invited guests may attend and be admitted to the annual meeting of the shareholders. Shareholders with evidence of stock ownership as of the record date may be accompanied by one guest. Photo identification will be required (a valid drivers license, state identification or passport). If a shareholders shares are registered in the name of a broker, trust, bank or other nominee, the shareholder must bring a proxy or a letter from that broker, trust, bank or other nominee or their most recent brokerage account statement that confirms that the shareholder was a beneficial owner of our shares as of the record date. Since seating is limited, admission to the meeting will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cameras (including cell phones with photographic capabilities), recording devices and other electronic devices will not be permitted at the meeting.
What constitutes a quorum?
The presence at the meeting, in person or by proxy, of the holders of a majority of the aggregate voting power of the common stock outstanding on the record date will constitute a quorum, permitting the conduct of business at the meeting. Proxies received but marked as abstentions and broker non-votes, if any, will be included in the calculation of the number of votes considered to be present at the meeting for the purposes of a quorum.
How do I vote?
If you are a holder of record (that is, your shares are registered in your own name with our transfer agent), you can vote either in person at the annual meeting or by proxy without attending the annual meeting. We urge you to vote by proxy even if you plan to attend the annual meeting so that we will know as soon as possible that enough votes will be present for us to hold the meeting. If you attend the meeting in person, you may vote at the meeting and your proxy will not be counted.
Each shareholder electing to receive shareholder materials by mail may vote by proxy by using the accompanying proxy card. When you return a proxy card that is properly signed and completed, the shares represented by your proxy will be voted as you specify on the proxy card.
If you hold your shares in street name, you must either direct the bank, broker or other record holder of your shares as to how to vote you shares, or obtain a proxy from the bank, broker or other record holder to vote at the meeting. Please refer to the voter instruction cards used by your bank, broker or other record holder for specific instructions on methods of voting, including by telephone or using the Internet.
Your shares will be voted as you indicate. If you return the proxy card but you do not indicate your voting preferences, then your shares will not be voted with respect to any proposal other than the ratification of our auditors and the individuals designated as proxies will vote your shares FOR the ratification of our auditors. The Board and management do not intend to present any matters at this time at the annual meeting other than those outlined in the notice of the annual meeting. Should any other matter requiring a vote of shareholders arise, shareholders returning the proxy card confer upon the individuals designated as proxys discretionary authority to vote the shares represented by such proxy on any such other matter in accordance with their best judgment.
Can I change my vote?
Yes. If you are a shareholder of record, you may revoke or change your vote at any time before the proxy is exercised by filing a notice of revocation with our secretary or mailing a proxy bearing a later date or by attending the annual meeting and voting in person. For shares you hold beneficially in street name, you may change your vote by submitting new voting instructions to your broker, bank or other nominee or, if you have obtained a legal proxy from your broker, bank or other nominee giving you the right to vote your shares, by attending the meeting and voting in person. In either case, the powers of the proxy holders will be suspended if you attend the meeting in person and are the shareholder of record (or if held in street name you have a legal proxy as described above) and so request, although attendance at the meeting will not by itself revoke a previously granted proxy.
How are we soliciting this proxy?
We are soliciting this proxy on behalf of our Board of Directors and will pay all expenses associated with this solicitation. In addition to mailing these proxy materials, certain of our officers and other employees may, without compensation other than their regular compensation, solicit proxies through further mailing or personal conversations, or by telephone, facsimile or other electronic means. We will also, upon request, reimburse brokers and other persons holding stock in their names, or in the names of nominees, for their reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for forwarding proxy materials to the beneficial owners of our stock and to obtain proxies.
Will shareholders be asked to vote on any other matters?
To the knowledge of the Company and its management, shareholders will vote only on the matters described in this proxy statement. However, if any other matters properly come before the meeting, the persons designated as proxies will vote on those matters in the manner they consider appropriate.
What vote is required to approve each item?
Directors are elected by a plurality of the votes cast at the meeting, which means that the eleven (11) nominees who receive the highest number of properly executed votes will be elected as directors, even if those nominees do not receive a majority of the votes cast. A properly executed proxy marked For All Except with respect to the election of one or more directors will not be voted with respect to the director or directors indicated, although it will be counted for purposes of determining whether there is a quorum. However, pursuant to a majority voting policy adopted by our Board, any nominee who receives more withheld than for votes must submit his or her resignation to the Corporate Governance Committee even if he or she received a plurality of votes. The Board of Directors shall then consider the Corporate Governance Committees recommendation as to whether or not to accept such resignation and will publically disclose its decision, the process in reaching the decision and the underlying reasons for its decision.
The advisory resolution on executive compensation, commonly referred to as a say-on-pay resolution, is non-binding on the Board of Directors. Although the vote is non-binding, the Board of Directors and the Compensation Committee will review the voting results in connection with their ongoing evaluation of our compensation program.
The ratification of the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to serve as our independent registered certified public accounting firm for the fiscal year ending February 2, 2013 will be approved if the votes cast FOR the proposal exceed the votes cast AGAINST the proposal.
How are votes counted?
In the election of directors, you may vote FOR all or some of the nominees or your vote may be FOR ALL EXCEPT with respect to one or more of the nominees.
For the advisory resolution on executive compensation and the ratification of the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to serve as our independent registered certified public accounting firm for the fiscal year ending February 2, 2013, you may vote FOR, AGAINST or ABSTAIN. Abstentions are considered to be present and entitled to vote at the meeting. Abstentions will have no effect on the advisory resolution on executive compensation and the ratification of the appointment of our independent registered certified public accounting firm.
If you hold your shares in street name, we have supplied copies of our proxy materials for our 2012 annual meeting of shareholders to the broker, bank or other nominee holding your shares of record and they have the responsibility to send these proxy materials to you. Your broker, bank or other nominee is permitted to vote your shares on the appointment of our independent registered certified public accounting firm without receiving voting instructions from you. In contrast, all other proposals are non-discretionary items. This means brokerage firms that have not received voting instructions from their clients on these proposals may not vote on them. These so-called broker non-votes will be included in the calculation of the number of votes considered to be present at the meeting for purposes of determining a quorum, but will not be considered in determining the number of votes necessary for approval and will have no effect on the outcome of the proposals.
What should I do if I receive more than one set of voting materials?
You may receive more than one set of voting materials, including multiple copies of this proxy statement, proxy cards or voting instruction cards. For example, if you hold your shares in more than one brokerage account, you may receive a separate voting instruction card for each brokerage account in which you hold shares. If you are a shareholder of record and your shares are registered in more than one name, you will receive more than one proxy card. Please vote your shares applicable to each proxy card and voting instruction card that you receive.
Where can I find the voting results of the annual meeting?
We intend to announce the preliminary voting results at the annual meeting and publish the final results in a Form 8-K within four business days following the annual meeting.
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners
The following table shows the name, address and beneficial ownership as of April 1, 2012 of each person known to us, other than Jay Stein, who is shown below, to be the beneficial owner of more than five percent (5%) of our outstanding common stock:
Security Ownership of Directors and Executive Officers
The following table sets forth certain information with respect to beneficial ownership of our common stock as of April 1, 2012 by: (i) each director; (ii) each current executive officer named in the Summary Compensation Table and (iii) all directors and executive officers as a group.
Includes the following shares of restricted stock which are currently outstanding and delivered to each individual upon vesting:
SECTION 16(a) BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING COMPLIANCE
Section 16(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 requires our directors and executive officers, and persons owning more than ten percent (10%) of our common stock to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission initial reports of ownership and reports of changes in ownership of common stock and other equity securities and to furnish us with copies of all such reports. To our knowledge, based solely on review of copies of such reports furnished to us during 2011, all Section 16(a) filing requirements applicable to our directors, officers and greater than ten percent (10%) beneficial owners have been complied with, except as follows: one late Form 4 reporting vested performance awards for Mr. Legler.
ELECTION OF DIRECTORS
At the meeting, eleven (11) directors will be elected for one (1) year and until the election and qualification of their successors. Each nominee is presently available for election and was previously elected to the Board by our shareholders. There are no family relationships between any of our directors or executive officers. While our directors are elected by a plurality vote, our majority voting policy requires that any director who received more withheld votes than for votes must tender his or her resignation and the full Board must determine whether or not to accept those resignations. We will file a Form 8-K that discloses the Boards decision and the reasons for its actions.
We believe that each nominee possesses the characteristics that are expected of all directors, namely; independence, integrity, sound business judgment and a willingness to represent the long-term interests of all shareholders. The following paragraphs provide biographies of each of our nominees and the experiences, qualifications or skills that caused the Corporate Governance Committee and the Board to determine that the person should serve as our director. These biographies contain information regarding the persons service as a director, business experience, director positions held currently or at any time during the last five (5) years and information regarding involvement in certain legal or administrative proceedings, if applicable.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE FOR THE ELECTION OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING NOMINEES. PROXIES SOLICITED BY THE BOARD WILL BE SO VOTED UNLESS SHAREHOLDERS SPECIFY A CONTRARY CHOICE IN THEIR PROXIES.
Our executive officers are:
For additional information regarding Mr. Stein, see the Directors table on the preceding page.
Mr. Hawkins joined us in February 1994 as Senior Vice President, Human Resources. He was promoted to Executive Vice President of Operations in September 2006, to Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer in October 2007 and to Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer in December 2011.
Mr. Kleffner joined us in August 2009 as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He was promoted to Executive Vice President in February 2010. Prior to joining us, Mr. Kleffner spent six (6) years with Kellwood Company, an apparel manufacturer. While at Kellwood Company, he served as Vice President, Controller from 2002 to 2005, Vice President Finance and Controller from 2005 to 2006, Senior Vice President Finance and Controller from 2006 to 2007 and Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2008.
Mr. Morrow joined us in February 2010 as Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer. Prior to joining us, Mr. Morrow served as Senior Vice President and General Merchandising Manager with Macys North/Marshall Fields from February 2005 to May 2008 and held the same position with Mervyns from May 2008 to October 2008 and served as Executive Vice President and General Merchandising Manager with Macys West from October 2008 to May 2009.
Mr. Pierce joined us in May 2010 as Senior Vice President and Director of Stores. Prior to joining us, Mr. Pierce served as Senior Vice President and Director of Stores for the Central and Northern divisions of Belk, Inc. from September 2001 to May 2010.
We are structured with a Board of Directors as our highest governing body. The Board in turn has a Chairman who helps set the agenda with management and who chairs the meetings of the Board. Mr. Stein, our Board Chairman, is currently serving as interim Chief Executive Officer while our CEO search takes place. Once a CEO is retained, our Boards leadership structure will consist of a separate Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The Board believes that separating the positions of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer enhances Board independence and oversight. That structure allows the Chief Executive Officer to better focus on his responsibilities of running the Company, enhancing shareholder value and expanding and strengthening our enterprise, while allowing the Chairman of the Board to lead the Board in its fundamental role of providing advice to, and independent oversight of management. The Board elects a lead director (the Lead Director), who serves as chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee. The Lead Director is an independent director with substantial management experience who works with the Board Chairman and management to set the agenda for Board meetings and serves as a liaison between the Board and management to facilitate communications, acts as a moderator of executive sessions made up solely of independent directors, and assures an independent Board member is involved in setting agendas for the Board and Corporate Governance Committee. Our Lead Director is Mr. Sisisky.
The Board meets at least quarterly and provides supervision of the Company between meetings through a number of standing committees. The Board recognizes its responsibility for oversight of our risk management and one (1) meeting each year of the Audit Committee is heavily focused on operational risk management dealing with areas of primary concern to us such as inventory control and shrinkage, insurance coverage, financial controls, adequacy of reserves, and third party claims. The full Board periodically addresses strategic risks such as changes in the retail environment as well as setting the authority limits for management at various levels. The Board believes that its focus on risk management discourages inappropriate risk-taking by management and results in appropriate controls.
The Compensation Committee seeks to establish a balance between rewarding performance and avoiding plans which might encourage inappropriate risk-taking by management. Our incentive compensation plans are adjusted annually to focus management on both general performance by us and specific areas of risk management which the Board, acting through the Compensation Committee, believes will be most effective in reducing, not encouraging inappropriate risks. Management is
encouraged to set specific criteria for lower levels of managements incentive compensation which similarly are intended to maximize opportunities and control risks at all levels of our operations. See the Compensation Discussion and Analysis section for more information on our incentive plans.
Shareholders who wish to communicate with the Board of Directors, or any particular Director, may send a letter to our Secretary at the address set forth on the first page of this proxy statement. The mailing envelope should contain a clear notation on the outside that the enclosed letter is a Shareholder-Board Communication or a Shareholder-Director Communication. All such letters should identify the author as a shareholder, state the name in which the shares of such author are held, and clearly state whether the intended recipients are all members of the Board or only certain specified individual directors. The Secretary will make copies of such letters and circulate them to the appropriate director or directors.
The Board adopted Corporate Governance Guidelines to assist the Board in the exercise of its responsibilities. The Corporate Governance Guidelines are available on our website, www.steinmart.com.
MEETINGS AND COMMITTEES OF THE BOARD
During 2011, the Board held a total of four (4) regular meetings. All directors attended at least seventy five percent (75%) of all meetings of the Board and Board committees on which they served during 2011.
We do not have a formal policy requiring Directors to attend annual meetings of shareholders. However, the annual meeting is generally held on the same day as a regularly scheduled Board meeting and we expect that the majority of our Directors will attend the annual meeting of shareholders. All directors attended the last annual meeting.
The Board of Directors has established five (5) standing committees: an Executive Committee, an Audit Committee, a Compensation Committee, a Corporate Governance Committee and a Strategic Planning Committee, which are described below. Members of the standing committees are elected annually at the regular Board meeting held in conjunction with the annual shareholders meeting with changes in committee assignments being made during the year as the Board of Directors deems appropriate.
Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is comprised of any two (2) directors who are independent directors under NASDAQ rules and one (1) additional director who is our Chief Executive Officer. Subject to the limitations specified by the Florida Business Corporation Act, the Executive Committee is authorized by our bylaws to exercise all of the powers of the Board of Directors when the Board of Directors is not in session. The Executive Committee held four (4) meetings during 2011. Three (3) of the meetings were attended by Messrs. Cohen, Sisisky and Stovall and the fourth was attended by Messrs. Alexander, Cohen & Jay Stein.
Audit Committee. During portions of 2011, the Audit Committee was comprised of Mr. Cohen (Chairman), Mr. Alexander, Ms. Falk and Mr. Sisisky, each of whom is an independent director under NASDAQ rules applicable to Audit Committee members. For 2012, Mr. Cohen and Ms. Falk remain on the committee, while Mr. Alexander and Mr. Sisisky have withdrawn and Ms. Farthing has now joined this committee. During 2011, the Audit Committee held fourteen (14) meetings. The Audit Committee is appointed by the Board to assist the Board in monitoring (1) the integrity of our financial statements, (2) our compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and (3) the independence and performance of our internal auditors. Our Board of Directors has determined that Messrs. Cohen, Alexander, Sisisky, Ms. Farthing and Ms. Falk each qualify as Audit Committee Financial Experts as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Audit Committee operates pursuant to a charter adopted by the full Board which is available on our website, www.steinmart.com.
Compensation Committee. The Compensation Committee is comprised of Messrs. Carpenter (Chairman), Alexander, Sisisky and Martin E. Stein, Jr., each of whom is an independent director under NASDAQ rules. During 2011, the Compensation Committee held three (3) meetings. This Committee has the responsibility for approving the compensation arrangements for our senior management, including Short-Term and Long-Term Incentive Compensation. It also recommends to the Board of Directors adoption of any compensation plans in which our officers and directors are eligible to participate. The Compensation Committee also serves as the Option Committee and makes grants of stock options, restricted stock and performance shares under our 2001 Omnibus Plan.
The Compensation Committee operates pursuant to a charter adopted by the full Board which is available on our website, www.steinmart.com.
Corporate Governance Committee. The Corporate Governance Committee is comprised of Mr. Sisisky (as the Lead Director and Chairman), Messrs. Cohen (as the Chairman of the Audit Committee), Carpenter (as the Chairman of the Compensation Committee) and Mettler (as the Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee), each of whom is an independent director under NASDAQ rules. The Committee is responsible for the search and selection of our future directors and recommends to the full Board the slate of Directors to be proposed to our shareholders at our annual meeting of shareholders. The Committee also reviews, from time to time, the roles of the other standing committees, recommends committee assignments and evaluates, on a periodic basis, the performance of the Board and each of its committees as well as the relationship between the Board and our management. During 2011, the Corporate Governance Committee held four (4) meetings. The Lead Director, among other things, assists in setting agendas for meetings of the Board, acts as a moderator of executive sessions made up solely of our independent directors and serves as a liaison to increase the flow of information between Board members and our management.
The Corporate Governance Committee will consider nominees for directors recommended by shareholders. Any shareholder wishing to make such a recommendation to the Corporate Governance Committee should submit the recommendation, in writing, with such supporting information as the shareholder believes appropriate, as well as any other information required to be disclosed about the candidate under the SECs proxy rules, to the Committee in care of our Lead Director at our headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Committee reviews a broad range of criteria when considering all possible candidates for the Board, including experience, education, ability to read and understand financial statements, ethics, business reputation and other factors that the Committee believes relevant in determining whether a candidate would add to the Boards ability to guide us. In recommending nominees for our directors, the Committee seeks to achieve a diversity of business experience and to enhance the Boards ability to address challenges facing us and to better understand our ability to take advantage of opportunities in the overall business landscape. The Committee informally evaluates incumbent directors to determine whether they should be nominated to stand for re-election based on such factors as well as their contribution to the Board during their current terms. When a vacancy develops, the Committee will solicit input regarding potential new candidates from a variety of sources, including existing directors and senior management. If the Committee deems it appropriate, the Committee may engage a third-party search firm. The Committee will evaluate all potential candidates, including any candidates recommended by shareholders, based on their biographical information and qualifications, information available through public records and their independence, and, if a potential candidate appears to be a good choice, will arrange personal interviews of qualified candidates by one (1) or more Committee members, other Board members and senior management, as the Committee believes appropriate.
The Corporate Governance Committee operates pursuant to a charter adopted by the full Board which is available on our website, www.steinmart.com.
Strategic Planning Committee. The Strategic Planning Committee develops and monitors our ongoing strategies to improve our position in the retail industry. A Strategic Planning Committee, comprised of four (4) independent directors of the Board of Directors, Messrs. Mettler (Chairman), Alexander, Cohen and Sisisky, was chartered to review key issues and developments with management as it works to surface issues and opportunities that we face in our effort to become a high performance growth company and guide management in assessing and developing strategies. The Strategic Planning Committee held six (6) meetings during 2011.
The Strategic Planning Committee operates pursuant to a charter adopted by the full Board which is available on our website, www.steinmart.com.
COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS
Our philosophy is to target non-employee director compensation at the mid-range of peer group pay levels. However, based on a study conducted by Mercer (US), Inc. (the Compensation Committees compensation consulting firm), cash compensation for our Board of Directors is below peer group 50th percentile levels and total compensation (including equity grants) is well below peer group 25th percentile levels. In view of the performance of the Company in 2011, the Board has elected to maintain its annual retainer at $36,000 for 2012.
In addition to annual retainers, Directors continue to be compensated through attendance fees and receipt of equity-based compensation. For 2011, each non-employee Director received attendance fees of $2,000 for attending meetings of the Board and $1,500 for committee meetings attended in person, or $750 for committee meetings held by conference call. Beginning in 2012, directors will receive $1,500 for all committee meetings regardless of whether they attend in person or by conference call. Mercer has recommended additional emphasis on equity-based compensation. Accordingly, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, each non-employee Director received $40,000 in value of our shares which equaled 3,918; 4,513 and 6,070 Restricted Shares, respectively, (subject to vesting over three (3) years as described below) on the grant date. Restricted Shares are issued to Directors on the first Tuesday in each January following the date we release our gross sales for the critical month of December. That date was selected to afford investors an opportunity to absorb that gross sales information and for our share price to reflect the appropriate value attributed to those shares by the investment community. The Directors Restricted Shares vest on the third anniversary of the date of grant or vest immediately if that persons directorship is terminated because of death, disability, retirement at age 72 or above, or a change of control of the Company.
In 2012, to compensate certain Directors with additional responsibilities, (i) our Lead Director receives an additional annual retainer of $40,000, (ii) the Chairperson of our Audit Committee receives an additional annual retainer of $25,000, and (iii) the Chairpersons of the Compensation and Strategic Planning Committees each receive an additional annual retainer of $15,000. The Chairperson of our CEO Search Committee, Mr. Mettler, received a $20,000 retainer in 2011, and will receive additional monthly retainers of $3,000 for the duration of the search.
Each Director also receives a one-time grant of 4,000 stock options upon becoming a Director.
DIRECTOR COMPENSATION FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDED JANUARY 28, 2012
This Compensation Discussion and Analysis provides information regarding our compensation programs and policies for our executives who are listed in our Summary Compensation Table. These executives are our interim Chief Executive Officer, our former President and Chief Executive Officer who retired on September 16, 2011, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, our Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer, our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and our Senior Vice President and Director of Stores (collectively, the Named Executive Officers).
Compensation Philosophy and Objectives
Our compensation program is designed to meet the following goals (the Compensation Goals):
To achieve these objectives, we use a mix of compensation elements, including:
In determining the amount and form of these compensation elements, we may consider a number of factors in any given year. The Compensation Committee considered the results from the shareholder advisory vote on executive compensation for fiscal year 2010 as support for the compensation policies and practices in place for 2010. At the 2011 annual meeting of shareholders, more than 98% of the votes cast on the shareholder advisory vote on executive compensation were in favor of our executive compensation. Our Board of Directors and our Compensation Committee value the opinions of our shareholders and are committed to ongoing engagement with our shareholders on executive compensation practices. Our Board of Directors has determined that our shareholders should vote on a say-on-pay proposal each year in accordance with the preference expressed by shareholders on the say-when-on-pay proposal at our 2011 annual meeting of shareholders.
Other factors that the Compensation Committee may consider in determining compensation include the following:
Although the Compensation Committee reviews from time to time the values of vested equity awards held by, and equity award profits realized by executives, the increases or decreases in the value of equity awards that were previously granted have no significant impact in the determination of cash or equity-based compensation.
Stock Ownership Policy
The Board has established share ownership guidelines for our Directors and Named Executive Officers. Directors are expected to own five times (5X) their annual retainer fee value, our Chief Executive Officer is expected to own three times (3X) base salary and the remaining executive officers are expected to own one and one half times (1.5X) base salary. Each individual has five (5) years to accumulate the desired ownership level beginning from the later of January 1, 2012 or their appointment as an executive officer or director, and once attained, will be considered to have met this requirement regardless of the effect of future share price. Our policy also prohibits our directors, officers and employees from engaging in hedging transactions or pledging or margin arrangements without receiving an exception from this prohibition in advance of such transactions.
Our executive compensation policies are established by the Compensation Committee which is composed entirely of independent directors as defined by applicable NASDAQ Rules. The Compensation Committee provides governance and oversight to our executive compensation programs, benefit plans and policies, and administers our Omnibus Plan, including a review of all equity grants under the Omnibus Plan. The Compensation Committee makes all compensation decisions relating to our President and Chief Executive Officer. The Compensation Committee reviews and approves, after considering the evaluation and recommendation of our President and Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, all compensation decisions relating to our other executive officers.
During 2011, the Compensation Committee retained Mercer (US), Inc., a compensation consulting firm, to support the Compensation Committee in its work. Mercer provides recommendations as well as information as to the compensation levels and practices of the various companies which are considered to be in our Peer Group. Mercer also provides the Compensation Committee with information as to current trends and best practices in executive compensation and informs them of pertinent regulatory and stock exchange rules impacting executive compensation matters. In addition, Mercer also provides advice to management with regard to special compensation issues that may arise. Mercer provided no other services to us during 2011.
To ensure independence, the Compensation Committee is required to pre-approve all other work unrelated to compensation advice to the Committee proposed to be provided by Mercer, if any such work were ever to be proposed. In addition, the Compensation Committee also considers the following factors in determining that its compensation consultant has no conflict of interest in providing advice to the Compensation Committee: the amount of fees paid by us as a percentage of the consulting firms total revenue and business or personal relationships between the consulting firm and the members of the Compensation Committee.
The Compensation Committee tests our compensation program periodically by comparing the compensation paid to our officers to the compensation paid by other companies in our Peer Group. Our Peer Group consists of a group of similarly sized apparel retail companies. The composition of the Peer Group as reviewed for setting 2011 compensation consisted of the following companies:
The Peer Group is monitored by the Compensation Committee to make sure it is composed of companies similar to our situation and size. Both additions and subtractions may occur from time to time. The Compensation Committee believes these are appropriate peer companies based upon their total revenues and their customer base. The 50th percentile as measured by total revenues of our Peer Group, as revised, equals $1.35 billion.
For purposes of determining equity-based compensation under our Long-Term Incentive Plan, we use the S&P 500 Apparel Retail Index.
Interim Chief Executive Officer
We have employed Jay Stein as our interim Chief Executive Officer while we conduct a search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Until we hire our new Chief Executive Officer, we are providing Mr. Stein a base salary of $540,000. Because of the interim nature of the position, Mr. Steins past experience as our Chief Executive Officer as well as Mr. Stein being our largest shareholder, the compensation paid to a new Chief Executive Officer or a future interim Chief Executive Officer is likely to be significantly different in amount and nature. The compensation being paid to Mr. Stein should not be viewed as reflecting the Compensation Committees compensation philosophy for executive officers.
Elements of Compensation
We seek to set base salaries for our officers at the mid-range of base salaries paid to officers performing similar duties by our Peer Group. We believe that, in general, paying less than that amount would be contrary to our Compensation Goals of attracting and retaining key officers. On the other hand, we believe that paying materially more than the mid-range of our Peer Group base salary would not support our Compensation Goals of minimizing fixed costs, motivating those officers through incentive compensation plans and aligning their interests with those of our shareholders. In 2011, the base salaries paid to Messrs. Stovall, Kleffner, Hawkins, Morrow and Pierce were substantially below the 50th percentile of base compensation paid to similar officers by our Peer Group. While those compensation levels are below the Companys targets, the Compensation Committee did not believe material increases in base compensation were appropriate until the Companys financial performance improves.
We use incentive plans, both short-term and long-term incentive plans, to meet our Compensation Goals of motivating our officers and aligning their interests with those of our shareholders by measuring performance by an objective standard. The Compensation Committee and the Board of Directors annually approve a business plan (the Business Plan) that establishes financial goals for the current year, and generally for the two fiscal years thereafter. The Business Plan which is intended to be ambitious, but realistic, drives the formulas for determining success under our incentive plans.
We have an annual incentive plan which is intended to provide short-term incentives to our officers to achieve excellent performance in the current financial period. Annual bonuses are driven by formulas tied to our achieving various levels of success compared with our Business Plan for the current year. Generally, the Short-Term Incentive Plan pays cash bonuses upon achieving the prescribed levels of success.
In addition to the annual incentive, our compensation plan includes a long-term incentive component. Since the interests of our shareholders are long-term as well as short-term, we align the interests of our officers with those of our shareholders by granting various combinations of stock options (Options), shares of our stock with the vesting of such shares dependent upon achieving long-term performance targets established by the Business Plan (Performance Shares), and shares of our stock, the vesting of which is dependent only on remaining employed by us for a certain period of time (Restricted Shares). The target award mix for Long-Term Incentive Compensation periodically changes based on our desired objectives.
The Compensation Committee has generally placed an aggregate cap on all target equity-based compensation awarded under our Long-Term Incentive Plan each year between two percent (2%) and three percent (3%) of our common shares outstanding (the Aggregate Equity-Based Run Rate Cap) to limit the overhang of unvested equity-based compensation shares outstanding. The Aggregate Equity-Based Run Rate Cap for 2011 was 2.5%.
We believe that the retail industry is subject to substantial swings in performance results based on factors which are unrelated to managements performance. For example, our overall performance may be heavily impacted by the state of the economy, unusual events such as terrorist attacks, and catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes. Accordingly, we believe that proper measurement of the performance of management over a multi-year period should also take into consideration our performance compared to the performance of our Peer Group during the same period. For our Long-Term Incentive Plan, the Compensation Committee compares our relative performance to the S&P 500 Retail Apparel Group.
Performance Levels for Incentive Plans
Awards under both the Short-Term and the Long-Term Incentive Plans are based on our achieving performance levels established by the Compensation Committee as a function of the Business Plan for the year(s) in question. The Compensation Committee seeks to set performance levels which it believes are both challenging and realistic. Typically, the Compensation Committee establishes multiple levels of Performance Goals in order to create challenging performance levels, but avoids establishing performance levels which are so unlikely to be achieved as to discourage performance by our officers. Thus, the Compensation Committee uses one or more levels of performance described below for our Named Executive Officers. Performance Goals for lower levels of management are tailored to more specific areas over which such personnel have more influence based on their respective areas of responsibility and include such factors as sales, gross margin, operating income at the store or district level, and inventory shrinkage. For 2011, the Compensation Committee used the following performance levels:
Threshold level which is generally the minimum performance level which must be achieved for any incentive compensation to be paid, and is established at the level which the Compensation Committee believes we have a eighty percent (80%) probability of achieving the level at which minimal bonuses will be paid under our Short-Term Incentive Plans;
Target level which is generally the minimum performance level which must be achieved for Long-Term Incentive Plan grants and which is generally our intended performance level based on our Business Plan, the performance level at which the intended incentive compensation based on the employees base salary is paid, and which is established at the level which the Compensation Committee believes we have a fifty percent (50%) probability of achieving;
Superior level which is intended to reward performance above our expected achievement or Target achievement level and is established at the level which the Compensation Committee believes we have a twenty percent (20%) or less probability of achieving; and
Outstanding level which is intended to reward outstanding performance above our expected achievement and is established at the level which the Compensation Committee believes we have a ten percent (10%) or less probability of achieving.
Awards under the Short-Term Incentive and the Long-Term Incentive Plans are then paid or granted based on interpolations between the various performance levels. Normally, no incentive compensation is paid to Named Executive Officers if the Threshold level of performance is not achieved.
2011 Short-Term Incentive Plan (Annual Cash Bonuses)
For 2011, the Committee determined that the Short-Term Incentive Plan performance levels would be based on achieving levels of Operating Income (income generated from operations for the current fiscal year calculated before income taxes and excluding non-recurring items of income or expense) and Comparable Store Sales goals. The Compensation Committee believes that using the combination of Operating Income and Comparable Store Sales helps us achieve our goal of growing our business profitability as the retail economic environment improves. The following table shows the performance levels based on the 2011 performance goals at each performance level for the Short-Term Incentive Plan and the percent of base compensation that would be earned by our Named Executive Officers for achieving such performance levels:
We did not achieve Threshold Level of the Performance Goals for the 2011 Short-Term Incentive Plan. Accordingly, no cash bonuses were paid to the Named Executive Officers.
2011 Long-Term Incentive Plan (Equity-Based Compensation)
For 2011 2013, the Compensation Committee determined that the Long-Term Incentive Plan would be based on relative Total Shareholder Return (TSR). The Compensation Committee believes this performance metric closely ties the Participants economic benefits to our long-term goal of increasing shareholder value as the retail economic environment improves. Awards under the 2011 Long-Term Incentive Plan for our Named Executive Officers are based on achieving various TSR performance levels. The following table shows the performance levels based on the 2011-2013 performance goals at each performance level for the Long-Term Incentive Plan and the percent of base compensation that would be earned by our Named Executive Officers for achieving such performance levels:
The number of Performance Shares awarded to a participant varies as a function of the performance level achieved and the management level of the participant. The number of Performance Shares awarded to any individual participant at the Target Level of performance is calculated by applying the appropriate percent to the Participants base compensation and dividing the resulting amount by the closing price of our shares on the grant date and then providing a pro-rata reduction, if necessary, for the Aggregate Equity-Based Run Rate Cap.
All Performance Shares awarded under the 2011 Long-Term Incentive Plan vest 100% on the date earned. However, a Participant who fails to remain employed due to death, disability, normal retirement or termination following a change of control will nevertheless receive a pro-rata portion of the Performance Shares he or she would have received had he or she remained employed for the full performance vesting period. This pro-rata award is based on the amount of elapsed time between the time of grant and the time of termination of employment for each applicable performance cycle.
Awards under the 2011 Long-Term Incentive Plan are not yet determined. As of the end of fiscal 2011, the Company was ranked at the 17th percentile relative to the S&P 500 Apparel Retail Index.
We minimize the use of perquisites, generally providing only those perquisites to our officers that are so standard in the industry as to be necessary in order to meet our Compensation Goals of attracting and retaining officers. Thus, we provide perquisites such as paid vacation days, health insurance, life insurance and a 401(k) retirement plan. We do not provide perquisites such as (i) a defined benefit plan (pension plan) and (ii) financial advice, tax preparation and the like. We provide the following perquisites to our Named Executive Officers which differ from those available to all full time employees:
Executive Medical, Dental and Vision Plan. We maintain a medical, dental and vision plan (the Medical Plan) for all of our full time employees, including the Named Executive Officers, covering medical costs similar to those covered by many companies with a substantial number of employees. The Medical Plan differs for Named Executive Officers in that such officers do not have any co-pay or deductibles or amounts withheld from their salary to pay for their participation in the Medical Plan. The Medical Plan was amended in 2008 to limit the total amount paid as co-pay and deductible to $25,000 per annum for any Named Executive Officer and to continue coverage to age 65 for officers retiring after age 62. Any payment by us for Named Executive Officers in excess of amounts not covered by the normal Medical Plan for other officers is taxable to the Named Executive Officer receiving the benefit of such payment; however we gross up the federal income taxes on such medical payments up to the cap described above.
Split-Dollar Life Insurance Plan. We maintain a death benefit plan for our officers which is funded through a split-dollar life insurance plan. The Executive Split Dollar Plan was implemented to provide a lower cost method of paying death benefits for senior management than group term insurance. The Plan provides the executives beneficiary with a substantial measure of financial security by providing either a pre-retirement or post-retirement death benefit. This benefit is intended to help attract and retain quality executives.
The Executive Split Dollar Plan is an endorsement method arrangement. As such, we purchase a life insurance policy on each executives life to fund death benefits. The amount of the death benefit is based upon the executives total compensation and eligible status. As the policy owner, we may exercise all ownership rights granted to the owner thereof by the terms of the policies. The total policy proceeds (death benefit) is split between us and the beneficiary(ies) named by the executive. If an executives
employment ends before retirement, the officer is given the option of buying the policy on that officers life from us for the greater of the accumulated current cash value of the policy or the amount paid by us to date as premiums for that policy. We make premium payments and the expense is offset by the cash value growth for the period. The cumulative premiums paid by us will be recovered from the death benefits.
The Executive Split Dollar Plan provides the following benefits for our officers:
Executive Deferred Compensation Plan. We provide a Non-Qualified Executive Deferred Compensation Plan (the Deferral Plan) for a number of our executives including the Named Executive Officers. Under the Deferral Plan, each covered executive has the right to defer receipt of a portion of his or her total compensation each year. For Named Executive Officers, we match the amount of deferred compensation up to a maximum of ten percent (10%) of an executives total compensation (salary plus bonuses) for each year. Our matched portion vests at twenty percent (20%) per year in each of years four (4) through eight (8) in order to encourage the retention of the executive receiving the match. Unvested amounts also vest on retirement or termination of the executives employment within three (3) years following a change of control. Retirement means a voluntary separation by an executive upon attaining age 62. For 2011, we matched at the rate of fifty percent (50%) of a participants contributions up to ten percent (10%) of salary and bonus. If we had achieved Target performance levels, or above for 2011, we would have matched up to an additional fifty percent (50%) up to ten percent (10%) of salary and bonus. We plan to continue that matching program for 2012. We do not provide any defined benefit (pension) plan for our Named Executive Officers, and believe that the Executive Deferred Compensation Plan provides a benefit which partially offsets the lack of a defined benefit plan, but at a much smaller cost to us.
Deferred amounts (which include vested matching contributions) are paid to the executive following the executives retirement, death, disability or termination following a change of control of the Company. Those amounts are paid either in a lump sum or over time as the executive elects. The plan allows for in service accounts whereby funds are channeled to accounts for specific purposes and are allowed by regulation to be withdrawn at certain additional times.
Automobile Allowance. Each Named Executive Officer receives an automobile allowance of $3,300 per calendar quarter to compensate such individuals for use of their personal automobiles on Company business except for Mr. Stein, who is provided a Company automobile.
Our Named Executive Officers have employment agreements that provide for payments upon a termination of employment by the executive for good reason or by us without cause. We believe that these agreements effectively create incentives for our executives to build shareholder value without the fear of losing employment for situations other than for cause. These arrangements are intended to attract and retain qualified executives who could have other job alternatives that may appear to them to be less risky absent these arrangements. Each of the employment agreements contains, among other things, the following provisions:
Term. The current employment agreements, are each for an initial period of two (2) years and do not automatically renew for additional periods. The employment agreements may be terminated before the end of their terms by the Company with or without cause or by the Named Executive Officer with or without good reason. Our interim Chief Executive Officer does not have an employment contract; however, the Company expects to have an employment agreement with a new Chief Executive Officer when hired.
Responsibilities. The employment agreements outline the responsibilities of each of the Named Executive Officers to devote, among other things, their full business time and attention to the affairs of the Company.
Compensation. The employment agreements provide for base compensation to each Named Executive Officer, which compensation is reviewed annually by the Compensation Committee. Bonuses are also paid on an annual incentive bonus program which is formula-driven and each officer receives Long-Term Incentive Compensation, as appropriate, paid in the form of equity-based compensation. In addition, each Named Executive Officer is entitled to participate in our Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plan.
Effect of Termination. In the event a Named Executive Officer is terminated by us for cause (as defined below) or if the Named Executive Officer leaves during the employment term without good reason (as defined below), then our only obligations to the executive are to pay his or her base salary through the date of termination, and to provide such other benefits as have been vested. However, if the Named Executive Officer is terminated by us without cause, or if he or she terminates his or her employment for good reason, or in the event we fail to renew the Named Executive Officers contract on expiration on terms not materially less than in the current employment agreement, then in addition to payment of base salary through the termination date, the Named Executive Officer is entitled to receive one hundred percent (100%) of his or her current annual base salary paid out over a continuation period ranging from twelve (12) to twenty-four (24) months following his or her termination. During the continued payment period, he or she also receives continued coverage under our medical, life and disability insurance programs. Finally, for Named Executive Officers, if such termination without cause (by us) or for good reason (by the executive) occurs within two (2) years following a change of control, then the severance payment is two hundred percent (200%) of such officers target bonus in the year of termination in addition to two hundred percent (200%) of base salary.
Good reason includes, among other things, a material reduction in the Named Executive Officers compensation or benefits which is materially more adverse to the executive than similar reductions applicable to other executives of a similar level of status within the Company, and the assignment to the Named Executive Officer of duties which results in a material diminution in such position, authority, duties or responsibilities and which could reasonably be believed to be demeaning.
Cause includes, among other things, that the Named Executive Officer (i) has been convicted of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, a felony involving dishonesty, theft, misappropriation, embezzlement, fraud, crimes against property or person, or moral turpitude which negatively impacts us; (ii) intentionally furnishes materially false, misleading, or incomplete information concerning a substantial matter to us or persons to whom the executive reports; (iii) intentionally fails to fulfill any assigned responsibilities for compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 or violates the same; (iv) intentionally and wrongfully damages material assets of ours; (v) intentionally and wrongfully discloses material confidential information of ours; (vi) intentionally and wrongfully engages in any competitive activity which would constitute a material breach of the duty of loyalty; (vii) intentionally breaches any stated material employment policy or any material provision of our ethics policy which could reasonably be expected to expose us to liability, (viii) intentionally commits a material breach of the employment agreement, or (ix) intentionally engages in acts or omissions which constitute failure to follow reasonable and lawful directives of ours.
Death and Disability. The employment agreements also provide that in the event of the Named Executive Officers death, his or her estate shall receive annual base compensation through the end of the month during which the death occurred, plus whatever bonus the Named Executive Officer was entitled to for the year during which the death occurred. Normal payments will also be made for the Named Executive Officers benefit under our other benefit plans in which he or she was a participant. In the event that termination is a result of permanent disability, such Named Executive Officer may be terminated if he or she does not recover within six (6) months following the onset of the disability, and the executive will receive a pro rata portion of his or her bonus for the year in which the termination occurred, and an additional nine (9) months base compensation following termination, as well as payment of benefits from any of our benefit plans in which the disabled executive was a participant.
Restrictive Covenant. Each executive agrees to maintain all of our trade secrets fully confidential, in perpetuity, and agrees to certain non-solicitation provisions in favor of us.
Internal Revenue Code Section 409A. The employment agreements of the Named Executive Officers contain provisions intended to comply with Internal Revenue Code Section 409A which may have the effect of postponing payments received by the Named Executive Officers following the termination of their employment with us.
Tax Limitations on Deductibility of Compensation
Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code precludes a public company from deducting compensation of more than $1 million each for its Named Executive Officers. Certain performance-based compensation is exempt from this limitation. We believe our incentive plans meet the performance-based compensation exemption from the deductibility limitation of §162(m) and that our current compensation plans are unlikely to generate any material compensation in excess of the §162(m) limits.
Changes For 2012
We have made several changes in an effort to further align our executive compensation practices to the achievement of our goals. For 2012, the Compensation Committee established a total merit pool equivalent to 1.5% of total base compensation for all employees including those of the Named Executive Officers. Merit Increases, if earned, are granted based on each associates individual performance review scores, and range between 1.0 3.5%. The increase for any individual associate is based on recommendations of that individuals immediate supervisor and as approved by the Companys president.
Merit pay raises in 2012 for our Named Executive Officers range from 2.0% to 2.5%. The Compensation Committee increased Mr. Hawkins base pay to $425,000 in December to recognize the additional responsibilities he assumed when named the Companys Chief Operating Officer. The Compensation Committee determined that those increases nevertheless resulted in base compensation for our Named Executive Officers which generally remained substantially below that of the 50% percentile of base pay for similar positions in our Peer Group.
For 2012, the Compensation Committee continues to believe that Comparable Store Sales Growth and Operating Income are the measures of our short term success and will use those metrics for the Short-Term Incentive Plan. The Short-Term Incentive Plan Performance Levels will be based fifty percent (50%) on achieving levels of Operating Income and fifty percent (50%) on achieving Comparable Store Sales.
The Compensation Committee has changed the performance levels for 2012 to be as follows:
The following table shows the Performance Levels based on the 2012 performance goals at each Performance Level for the Short-Term Incentive Plan:
For 2012, the Compensation Committee has elected to continue to use a relative measure and will continue to use the S&P 500 Apparel Retail Index, as comprised at the beginning of 2012, to compare our performance to others in the industry. Awards under the 2012-2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan for our Named Executive Officers will be based on our relative Total Shareholder Return compared to the S&P 500 Apparel Retail Index for the three (3) year performance period.
For 2012, the Long-Term Incentive Plan for the Named Executive Officers and general counsel will be based on a three year performance period and paid sixty percent (60%) in Performance Shares and forty percent (40%) in Restricted Shares. The Performance Shares will vest at the end of the third year based upon the performance level achieved for the cumulative three year performance period and the time-based Restricted Shares will vest at the end of the third year. However, a participant who fails to remain employed due to death, disability, normal retirement or termination following a change of control will nevertheless receive a pro-rata portion of both the Performance Shares and Restricted Stock he or she would have received had he or she remained employed for the full performance period. This pro-rata award is based on the amount of elapsed time between the time of grant and the time of termination of employment for each applicable performance cycle. The Performance Shares will be earned, if at all, based on our relative Total Shareholder Return compared to that of the S&P 500 Apparel Retail Index. For the Named Executive Officers, the relative Total Shareholder Return performance goals are shown in the following table:
For 2012, the Compensation Committee has set the Aggregate Equity-Based Run Rate Cap at two and one half percent (2.5%) for shares issued under our Long-Term Incentive Plan.
COMPENSATION COMMITTEE REPORT
The Compensation Committee, comprised entirely of independent directors, reviewed and discussed the above Compensation Discussion and Analysis with the Companys management. Based on such review and discussions, the Compensation Committee recommended to our Board of Directors that the Compensation Discussion and Analysis be included in these Proxy materials and incorporated by reference into the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended January 28, 2012.
Alvin R. Carpenter, Chairman
Richard L. Sisisky
Martin E. Stein, Jr.
The Summary Compensation Table summarizes the compensation paid or accrued by us to anyone who served as our Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer and our three other highest paid executive officers during the year ended January 28, 2012.
The amounts reported in this section for stock and option awards may not represent the amounts that the Named Executive Officers will actually realize from the awards. Whether, and to what extent, a Named Executive Officer realizes value will depend on our performance, stock price and continued employment.
SUMMARY COMPENSATION TABLE
GRANTS OF PLAN-BASED AWARDS FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDED JANUARY 28, 2012
The following table shows the Plan-Based awards granted to each Named Executive Officer during the fiscal year ended January 28, 2012.
OUTSTANDING EQUITY AWARDS AT FISCAL YEAR ENDED JANUARY 28, 2012
The following table shows the outstanding equity awards for each Named Executive Officer as of the fiscal year ended January 28, 2012.
OPTION EXERCISES AND STOCK VESTED DURING FISCAL YEAR ENDED JANUARY 28, 2012
The following table provides information relating to options exercised and stock awards that vested during the fiscal year ended January 28, 2012 for each of the Named Executive Officers.
NON-QUALIFIED DEFERRED COMPENSATION FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDED JANUARY 28, 2012
Amounts credited to each Named Executive Officers account will receive earnings/(loss) depending upon the investment option elected by each named executive. The following table shows the current investment options available under our Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plan and their annual rate of return for the calendar year ended December 31, 2011.
The earnings (loss) realized by each of the Named Executive Officers is reflected in the table below:
POTENTIAL PAYMENTS UPON TERMINATION OR CHANGE IN CONTROL
The following table shows the potential payments upon termination, disability, death or a change in control of the Company for Jay Stein, the Companys Chairman and interim Chief Executive Officer.
The following table shows the potential payments upon termination, disability, death or a change in control of the Company for Gregory W. Kleffner, our Companys Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
The following table shows the potential payments upon termination, disability, death or a change in control of the Company for D. Hunt Hawkins, the Companys Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
The following table shows the potential payments upon termination, disability, death or a change in control of the Company for Brian R. Morrow, our Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer.
The following table shows the potential payments upon termination, disability, death or a change in control of the Company for Gary L. Pierce, our Senior Vice President and Director of Stores.
ADVISORY RESOLUTION ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
We are asking shareholders to approve an advisory resolution approving our executive compensation as reported in this proxy statement. As described below, in the Compensation Discussion and Analysis section of this proxy statement, the Compensation Committee has structured our executive compensation program to achieve the following key objectives:
We urge shareholders to read the Compensation Discussion and Analysis beginning on page 13 of this proxy statement, which describes in more detail how our executive compensation policies and procedures operate and are designed to achieve our compensation objectives, as well as the Summary Compensation Table and other related compensation tables and narrative, which provide detailed information on the compensation of our Named Executive Officers. The Compensation Committee and the Board of Directors believe that the policies and procedures articulated in the Compensation Discussion and Analysis are effective in achieving our goals and that the compensation of our Named Executive Officers reported in this proxy statement has contributed to our recent and long-term success.
In accordance with recently adopted Section 14A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act), we are asking shareholders to approve the following advisory resolution:
RESOLVED, that the shareholders of Stein Mart, Inc. approve, on an advisory basis, the 2011 compensation of our Named Executive Officers disclosed in the Compensation Discussion and Analysis, the Summary Compensation Table and the related compensation tables, notes and narrative in the Proxy Statement for our 2012 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
This advisory resolution, commonly referred to as a say-on-pay resolution, is non-binding on the Board of Directors. Although non-binding, the Board and the Compensation Committee will review and consider the voting results when making future decisions regarding our executive compensation program.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE FOR THE APPROVAL OF THE ADVISORY RESOLUTION APPROVING EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION.
AUDIT COMMITTEE REPORT
The Audit Committee met with management and the independent registered certified public accounting firm fourteen (14) times during 2011 to review and discuss the Companys annual and quarterly financial statements prior to their issuance, and other matters. Four (4) of these meetings also included separate executive sessions with the independent registered certified public accounting firm, with the Companys Chief Financial Officer and with the Companys Senior Vice President of Internal Audit, Safety and Security. During 2011, management advised the Audit Committee that each set of financial statements reviewed had been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the USA. The Audit Committee also discussed with the independent registered certified public accounting firm the matters required by PCAOB AU Section 380, as amended (Communications with Audit Committees). The Audit Committee also received the written disclosures from the independent registered certified public accounting firm mandated by applicable requirements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding the independent registered certified public accounting firms communication with the Audit Committee concerning independence, and discussed with the independent registered certified public accounting firm their firms independence. The Audit Committee also monitored the Companys compliance with the internal controls provisions of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
Based upon the Audit Committees discussions with management and the independent registered certified public accounting firm and its review of their representations, the Audit Committee recommended that the Board of Directors include the audited consolidated financial statements in the Companys annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended January 28, 2012, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Irwin Cohen, Chairman
Linda M. Farthing
RATIFICATION OF APPOINTMENT OF PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP AS
THE COMPANYS INDEPENDENT REGISTERED CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
The Audit Committee has selected the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to serve as our independent registered certified public accounting firm for the current fiscal year ending February 2, 2013. That firm has served as our audit firm since 1983. Our Board of Directors has directed that the appointment of the independent registered certified public accounting firm be submitted for ratification by the shareholders at the annual meeting. Representatives of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP will be present at the annual meeting of shareholders and will be given the opportunity to make a statement, if they so desire, and to respond to appropriate questions.
Shareholder ratification of the selection of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as our independent registered certified public accounting firm is not required by our articles of incorporation or bylaws. However, the Board of Directors is submitting the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as a matter of good corporate practice. If the shareholders do not ratify the selection, the Audit Committee will reconsider whether or not to retain PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. In such event, the Audit Committee may retain PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP notwithstanding the fact that the shareholders did not ratify the selection, or select another nationally recognized accounting firm without re-submitting the matter to a shareholder vote. Even if the selection is ratified, the Audit Committee retains the right in its discretion to select a different nationally recognized accounting firm at any time during the year if it determines that such a change would be in the best interests of our shareholders and the Company.
The following table provides information relating to the fees billed or expected to be billed for the audit including the audit of internal controls and fees billed/paid in each of the last two (2) fiscal years for other services provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
All decisions regarding selection of independent registered certified public accounting firms and approval of accounting services and fees are made by our Audit Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules and regulations of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The Audit Committee must pre-approve (i) all audit services, and (ii) all non-audit services provided by the independent registered certified public accounting firm that are permitted by Section 201 of the Sarbanes Act, except if:
All audit, audit-related and tax services provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP were pre-approved in accordance with the Audit Committees guidelines.
The Audit Committee discussed the non-audit services with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and determined that their provision would not impair that firms independence.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY RECOMMENDS THAT THE SHAREHOLDERS VOTE FOR THE PROPOSAL TO RATIFY THE APPOINTMENT OF PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP AS THE COMPANYS INDEPENDENT REGISTERED CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM FOR THE YEAR ENDING FEBRUARY 2, 2013.
RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors is responsible for evaluating the appropriateness of all related-party transactions.
The Audit Committee has adopted written policies and procedures for the Committee to review and approve or ratify related-party transactions involving the Company, any of its executive officers, directors or five percent (5%) or more shareholders or any of their family members. These transactions include:
Transactions that are deemed immaterial under SEC disclosure requirements are generally deemed pre-approved under these written policies and procedures, including transactions with a company with which a Stein Mart directors sole relationship is as a non-employee director and the total amount involved does not exceed one percent (1%) of the other companys total annual revenues.
Criteria for Audit Committee approval or ratification of related-party transactions include:
The Audit Committee has approved the related-party transactions described below, each involving non-employee directors of the Company, after determining that the transactions do not adversely affect the performance by these directors of their duties to the Company.
Mr. Mitchell W. Legler. Mr. Legler is the majority shareholder of Kirschner & Legler, P.A., general counsel to the Company since April 2001. From August 1995 to April 2001, Mr. Legler was the sole shareholder of the law firm of Mitchell W. Legler, P.A., which served as general counsel to us. Legal fees received by Kirschner & Legler, P.A. for fiscal year 2011 were $178,800. The Audit Committee believes that amounts paid for these services are competitive with amounts that would be paid to a third party for similar services. In addition, Mr. Legler as general counsel to the Company participated in our 2011 Incentive Plans and was granted 10,270 Performance Share Awards at a target level and 6,850 Restricted Stock Awards under our Long-Term Incentive Plan. In April 2011, we entered into an agreement with Kirschner & Legler, P.A. pursuant to which we have retained Mr. Legler and his firm to serve as our general counsel for a term of two (2) years. This agreement provides that we will pay Kirschner & Legler, P.A. $180,000 per year and that such firm will be eligible to receive bonus and equity awards through our compensation program. This agreement further provides that Mr. Legler will be able to participate in our medical and dental insurance plans to the same extent as a person employed as a Senior Vice President. The agreement provides for a severance payment of $180,000 if the agreement is terminated without cause (as defined in the agreement) or if the agreement is not renewed at the expiration of the term. If the agreement is terminated following a change of control, we have agreed to pay 200% of the sum of (i) the amount due for a termination without cause and (ii) the target bonus in the year of termination.
Mr. Martin E. Stein, Jr. Mr. Stein, a member of the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors, is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Regency Centers Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange listed real estate investment trust, through which we lease three (3) store locations owned by Regency Centers Corporation for approximately $800,000 in base rent annually. The Audit Committee believes that amounts paid for leased space and other lease-related services are competitive with amounts that would be paid to a third party to lease similar space.
SHAREHOLDER PROPOSALS FOR THE 2013 ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS
Regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission require proxy statements to disclose the date by which shareholder proposals must be received by us in order to be included in our proxy materials for the next annual meeting. In accordance with these regulations, shareholders are hereby notified that if they wish a proposal to be included in our proxy statement and form of proxy relating to the 2013 annual meeting, a written copy of their proposal must be received at the principal executive offices of the Company no later than December 31, 2012. To ensure prompt receipt by us, proposals should be sent certified mail return receipt requested. Proposals must comply with the proxy rules relating to shareholder proposals in order to be included in our proxy materials. Notice to us of a shareholder proposal submitted otherwise than pursuant to Rule 14a-8 will be considered untimely if received by us after December 31, 2012 and the proposal will not be brought before the meeting.
A copy of our Annual Report for the year ended January 28, 2012 accompanies this proxy statement. Additional copies may be obtained by writing to Ms. Linda Tasseff, our Director, Investor Relations and Special Projects, at 1200 Riverplace Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207.
SHAREHOLDERS ARE URGED TO SPECIFY THEIR CHOICES AND VOTE BY INTERNET, TELEPHONE OR MAIL. INTERNET OR TELEPHONE VOTE AUTHORIZES THE NAMED PROXIES TO VOTE YOUR SHARES IN THE SAME MANNER AS IF YOU MARKED, SIGNED AND RETURNED YOUR PROXY CARD. IF YOU VOTE YOUR PROXY BY INTERNET OR BY TELEPHONE, YOU DO NOT NEED TO MAIL BACK YOUR PROXY CARD.
TO VOTE, MARK BLOCKS BELOW IN BLUE OR BLACK INK AS FOLLOWS:
KEEP THIS PORTION FOR YOUR RECORDS
DETACH AND RETURN THIS PORTION ONLY
THIS PROXY CARD IS VALID ONLY WHEN SIGNED AND DATED.
Important Notice Regarding the Availability of Proxy Materials for the Annual Meeting: The Notice & Proxy Statement, 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K is/are available at www.proxyvote.com.