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Sports Direct launches independent board review

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SPORTS DIRECT, the embattled sports clothing retailer, said on Thursday that it would hire independent advisers to “evaluate” its board after criticism over its corporate governance

The retailer said in a statement that “an external evaluation of the board is planned for later this financial year”.

Its board is made up of seven executives, four of which are non-executive board members. They include Clare Jenkins, David Singleton, Simon Bentley and Dr Keith Hellawell.

The executive board members are Mike Ashley, founder and deputy chairman, CEO David Forsey and acting CFO Matt Pearson.

Ashley is set to face a shareholder revolt at the AGM over the reappointment of Dr Hellawell. Around 24% of independent shareholders voted against Hellawell at last year’s annual general meeting. New rules on shareholder votes however mean Dr Hellawell must win over the shareholders’ support instead of just relying on the vote of Mike Ashley, who is the main shareholder.

The company is also set to publish an independent report on its working practices – carried out by law firm RPC – during the week of 5 September, ahead of its AGM on 7 September 2016.

Sports Direct is facing growing pressure to overhaul its working practices and corporate governance. Its sales performance and share price have fallen after it was revealed the retailer was mistreating store and warehouse workers.

Warehouse workers at Sports Direct were this week awarded £1m in back pay after the retailer admitted it had broken the law by failing to pay staff the national minimum wage.

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