Retail firm splurges on plane despite sterling's hit to profits
Scandal-prone retailer Sports Direct has been hit hard by the weak pound since the EU referendum, with pre-tax profits down 57 per cent to £71.6 million in the first half of 2016.
Though revenues are up 14 per cent to £1.6 billion, founder Mike Ashley said:
“The last six months have been tough for our people and performance.
Our UK Sports Retail business continues to be the engine of Sports Direct, but our results have been affected by the significant deterioration in exchange rates, and our assessment of our risk relating to our stock levels and European stores performance.”
He might have added the huge workers’ rights scandals at Sports Direct warehouses exposed by Unite and the Guardian, which forced Ashley to admit ‘serious shortcomings’ such as not paying the minimum wage.
Still, there is a silver-lining for Ashley and pals. Despite the company’s woes, Sports Direct is splurging £40 million on a corporate jet in order to ‘facilitate efficiencies’. How swish!
The firm already has a helicopter used by ‘senior management, employees and our business partners on a regular basis’.
Ashley has also revealed an exciting new venture – propping up his daughter Matilda’s beauty company, Double Take, by handing her exclusive rights to a Sports Direct beauty brand. How cosy! No doubt she’ll be earning more than minimum wage.
Meanwhile, chairman Keith Hellawell has blamed the company’s rough winds on, er, the exposure of the scandals. The former police chief said:
“I have no doubt that the extreme political, union and media campaign waged against this company has not only damaged its reputation and influenced our customers, it has impacted negatively on the morale of our people.
I begin to question whether this intense scrutiny is all ethically motivated.”
Quite the ‘performance’! If he wants someone to blame, he should look in a mirror and over the boardroom table at his fellow Sports Direct bosses – assuming they aren’t off in the helicopter.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.