Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe

Mike Ashley to Review Sports Direct's Treatment of Employees

  • Company refutes `unfounded' allegations over working practices
  • Review of agency-sourced workers to begin in early 2016

Sports Direct International Plc’s billionaire founder Mike Ashley is to personally oversee a review of the company’s handling of agency workers as his company seeks to defuse a row over its treatment of employees.

The review, which will start in early 2016, follows an undercover report into working practices at one of its warehouses alleging that mandatory staff searches at the end of shifts meant the company effectively paid below the minimum wage. In a statement Friday, Sports Direct refuted the “unfounded criticisms” and said the chairman’s review will ensure that as well as meeting its legal obligations, it also provides a good environment for all workers.

“To date, Sports Direct has sought to address questions relating to its employment practices on a case-by-case basis,” the U.K.’s largest sporting-goods retailer said in the statement. “By doing so, various parties have chosen to ignore the facts provided and continued to present an unfair portrayal.”

The internal review and public rebuttal of the allegations is an unprecedented move by Sports Direct, whose treatment of employees has long been criticized. The scrutiny around the company heightened this month after the Guardian newspaper sent undercover reporters to work at a warehouse in central England.

Sports Direct also denied that it penalized staff for being sick or that it discriminates against workers based on their nationality.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE