Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey has lashed out at "agitators" who he says oppose anything his furniture and electronics retail business does.
"There's this movement out there with agitators who are against anything we do," Mr Harvey said on Wednesday.
"The family business doesn't exist as far as they're concerned."
His comments came as shareholders handed the retail giant a second consecutive strike on executive pay. That means the company's board – which is unchanged since 2007 – faces a potential spill.
Harvey Norman's remuneration report was voted down by 47.6 per cent of proxies at Wednesday's meeting in Sydney. The result was well above the 25 per cent threshold for a strike and will force a vote on whether to spill the board.
Just over 50 per cent of shareholders rejected the remuneration report at last year's annual meeting.
Mr Harvey also engaged in heated exchanges with shareholder activist Stephen Mayne, who was vying for a spot on the board, calling him "absolutely devoid of any common sense" on Wednesday.
"He'll get up and talk for the rest of this meeting and it will be bulls–t all the way through," Mr Harvey said.
Rumblings at Harvey Norman grew earlier this year, when it emerged two proxy firms had advised major shareholders to vote against the reappointment of the company’s chief executive, Katie Page, to its board. Ms Page is Mr Harvey's wife, and the couple own 47.5 per of the retailer.
The two proxy firms backed Mr Mayne to replace Ms Page on the board.
That move fell flat on Wednesday, with Ms Page receiving a 90.8 per cent vote in favour of her re-election.
The second-strike vote came after Harvey Norman revealed its Australian business has been its second-worst performing unit so far this financial year for sales growth.
Australian franchisee comparable sales for the four months to October 31 were just 0.4 per cent higher than a year earlier.
That compares to a 1.7 per cent rise across the whole business. Only Singapore – where sales fell 8.1 per cent – performed worse.
The sluggish local sales growth was announced a day after Australian consumer confidence was shown to have slumped to a four-year low following a clutch of gloomy economic data.
Three Reserve Bank rate cuts since June and federal government tax rebates have failed to stimulate consumer spending. Retail sales growth slowed to a seasonally adjusted 0.2 per cent in September from 0.4 per cent in August.
Northern Ireland, Slovenia and Croatia, and Ireland all showed comparable sales growth of more than 8 per cent, with New Zealand not far behind at 7.7 per cent.
Malaysia, the remaining territory in which Harvey Norman is active, showed 4.2 per cent growth.
After an early drop on Wednesday, Harvey Norman shares climbed through the meeting and vote on pay. They were 0.1 per cent higher at $4.325 at 12.25pm (AEDT).