Shareholders of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store have voted in favor of the company’s slate of director candidates, rebuffing the latest attempt by activist investor Sardar Biglari to gain board representation.
Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel on Thursday morning said the preliminary results from its annual shareholders’ meeting showed that investors have re-elected all 10 of the company's directors “by an overwhelming margin.” An outside firm will in the coming days certify the vote’s final numbers.
Biglari first built a big stake in Cracker Barrel in 2011 and has tried three times to be elected a director himself. This time around, he nominated Rick Barbrick, co-CEO of a New Jersey holding company for restaurants and hotels, to the company’s board, which he contends lacks direct restaurant operations experience. Biglari had targeted former Clarcor CEO Norm Johnson’s seat as the one Barbrick would fill.
“We are gratified by our shareholders' continued support of our board of directors, and firmly believe our board is comprised of outstanding directors who will continue to drive the successful execution of Cracker Barrel's go-forward strategy,” board Chairman William McCarten said in a statement. “We are focused on continuing to adapt our operations to the extraordinary environment while executing on our proven strategic plan and generating shareholder value.”
At around noon Thursday, Cracker Barrel shares (Ticker: CBRL) were up 0.7 percent to about $137.90. They began the year near $155 and fell below $54 during the market’s March nadir.
In the company’s statement, McCarten said “a significant number” of shareholders have cast advisory votes against the company’s officer and director compensation policies and pledged that the board will engage with investors “to better explain our decisions and to understand and respond to their concerns.”