Hellawell to stay as Sports Direct chairman despite losing shareholder vote

The profit warning spooked investors, who were unable to find any solace in founder and majority owner Mike Ashley confirming that he was not planning on taking the company private any time soon.

But an attempt at salvaging its image - by inviting journalists and the public to an annual meeting and a warehouse visit - quickly unravelled when he clashed with those attending.

He said: "This is probably your fault we are in this mess because we can't talk to you". BI will be at the AGM and reporting on what happens.

However, he added he "clearly could have done a better job". I didn't knowingly do it badly, I certainly didn't deliberately do it badly.

Mr Ashley was forced to empty his pockets - revealing a wad of £50 notes.

The Sports Direct boss was conducting a tour of his empire at the firm's Shirebrook building. He admitted that workers had been paid below minimum wage and said the problem of not awarding overtime for late clocking off hadn't been addressed.

Sports Direct is to offer its casual retail workers the opportunity to switch from a zero-hours arrangement to a permanent contract guaranteeing at least 12 hours per week.

Legal firm RPC identified "serious shortcomings" in the firm's working practices which its board "deeply regrets and apologises for".

The company's pledge to end zero-hours contracts for shop staff following a report into the company's working practices released yesterday does not appear to have assuaged investors.

Confirmation that the company had failed to do enough for some investors came initially from Standard Life Investments - its second-largest shareholder.

"In order to arrive at the correct structural conclusions, we believe that a full and independent review of governance at the company is required, along with a commitment to publish and act on the review's conclusions and recommendations in the next twelve months", he said.

Standard Life's Euan Stirling said it had engaged with Sports Direct's board "over many years, sadly to little effect".

Shareholder Hermes also said it would vote against the reappointment of Mr Hellawell.

The meeting had always promised to be stormy after it leaked out that Hellawell had offered to quit at the weekend, only to have the offer rejected by the board.

Another shareholder advisory group, Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (Pirc), has advised investors to vote against the re-election of Mr Hellawell and executive deputy chairman Mr Ashley.

The report said Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, who was hauled before MPs over conditions at the warehouse, "takes ultimate responsibility for any aspects of the working practices that were unsatisfactory".

The company said underlying profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization would be about 300 million pounds ($403 million) next fiscal year, below estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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