Employment practices at Sports Direct Contents


75.Sports Direct is the country’s largest sports retail outlet, but that size and success is founded on a business model that enables the majority of workers in both the warehouse at Shirebrook and at the shops around the UK to be treated without dignity or respect. Mr Ashley agreed that we could visit Shirebrook unannounced, but conceded that any such visit would reveal things that were wrong: “I am telling you will find things wrong, but let us do it then constructively and move forward”.117 We look forward to engaging with this constructive, forward-thinking approach to changing conditions for Sports Direct workers.

76.Although Sports Direct is a particularly bad example of a business that exploits its workers in order to maximise its profits, it is unlikely that it is the only organisation that operates in such a way. We will be holding Mr Ashley’s feet to the fire, so as to see what progress he has made on improving working conditions for workers at his premises. We will also be studying the business model in general when we look at the labour market. Evidence of poor working practices reflects badly on the corporate governance arrangements at Sports Direct; we call on Mr Ashley to establish an independent review of existing arrangements in order to demonstrate good faith and improve investor confidence.

77.Mr Ashley told us that, ultimately, he is always responsible for Sports Direct. We welcome and thank him for his openness and willingness to engage with us when he—finally—appeared before us. However, he must be held accountable for some appalling working practices at both the Sports Direct shops and warehouses, either for not knowing about them, or for turning a blind eye to such practices in the interests of maximising the revenue of Sports Direct.

117 Q198

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21 July 2016