The uncertainty over the bid plans of Matalan's chairman was not alleviated at yesterday's annual meeting.

Founder and chairman John Hargreaves was tight-lipped on details of his potential offer, although the company's biggest institutional shareholder - Harris Associates -was reported to have voted against Hargreaves' re-election.

Shareholders and board members are said to be growing increasingly frustrated with Hargreaves, who has announced a planned dividend cut next year and is feared to be planning a low-ball bid. Just 69% of the group's shares backed Hargreaves, the Guardian reported.

Matalan's CEO John King announced early this year he will leave the company and return to the US at the end of 2006 following ongoing feuds with Hargreaves.

However, a spark of hope was generated as the company, which has struggled to maintain market momentum lately, reported a much-welcomed same-store increase and better margins.

Matalan could not be contacted for comment early today.