Mike Ashley attacks investors
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has launched an assault on minority shareholders in the retailer, accusing them of stabbing him in the back over the departure of chairman Keith Hellawell.
The retail tycoon accused investors of “repeatedly hounding”hellawell,whoquit Sports Direct on Wednesday following another shambolic annual meeting.
Suggesting that he will reject future shareholder engagement, Ashley said: “Despite the substantial progress made over the last few years, the shareholders have now made it extremely challenging for future engagement to take place.
“On the one hand they are delighted with our performance and progress, yet with the other hand they have stabbed Sports Direct and myself in the back by repeatedly hounding Keith Hellawell.”
The billionaire, who also owns Newcastle United, holds 62 per cent of Sports Direct shares, with independent investors making up the remainder.
Many of them have been vocal about corporate governance failings at the retailer, and their criticism has lately honed in on Hellawell. The former West Yorkshire Police chief constable has come under fire for not being able to rein in Ashley. As well as allegations of poor working conditions at the retailer’s warehouses, Sports Direct has handed millions to Ashley’s daughter’s boyfriend for his role as a property consultant.
But Ashley said: “I have gone above and beyond to enable a significant leap forward in order to rebuild the reputation of Sports Direct in the City, and I have worked tirelessly with Keith Hellawell in his role as chairman to achieve this.
“Despite this progress and the undoubted good performance of Sports Direct led by Keith Hellawell and myself, the company’s shareholders appear to be affected by the pressure of the media and certain other organisations.”