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Published: Sat, September 09, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Sports Direct chairman survives re-election vote

Sports Direct chairman survives re-election vote

The company is facing a shareholder revolt at the meeting, over its share buyback plan, and chairman Keith Hellawell is also facing investor ire - the former police officer has said he will walk if he does not receive the support of the independent shareholders.

Hellawell, who has relied on majority shareholder Mike Ashley to keep him in post in the past, vowed to step down at this year's AGM if hit with the same level of protest seen in 2016 when 54 per cent of independent investors voted against his re-election.

Earlier, the owner of Newcastle United made a bold comment about his business.

Approximately 5% of independent shareholders withheld their votes.

Among the chief concerns of some of the independent shareholders is Hellawell's inability to rein in Ashley - who did not attend today's AGM due to a diary clash - who has seemingly been at the forefront of Sports Direct's controversies. "In spite of the progress over the past year, there remain significant governance questions about Sports Direct".

Sports Direct Chairman Keith Hellawell (R) arrives for the company's AGM at their headquarters in Shirebrook, Britain September 6, 2017.

He said: "It is still a legal form of employment in this country".

It subsequently sold its shareholding in Sports Direct before buying back into the company below its flotation price since its AGM past year.

The firm said it remained "optimistic" about profits this year and confirmed it now owns 100% of designer clothes retailer Flannels.

In the report, Sports Direct admitted to a number of accusations made against it related to poor working conditions at its warehouse in Shirebrook, including underpayment of staff, punishments for taking short breaks during work hours, and a breach of health and safety practices.

However, on Tuesday, trade union Unite said Sports Direct is continuing to advertise for casual workers with no guaranteed hours in its stores across the UK.

The retailer said trading in new format flagship stores continued to exceed its expectations, while the quality of its stores was improving as smaller shops were relocated.

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