Sports Direct lashes out at lobby accusing it of ‘fake news’ over pay claims

Sports Direct majority shareholder Mike Ashley at the company's annual general meeting in Shirebrook, Nottinghamshire  Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Sports Direct majority shareholder Mike Ashley at the company's annual general meeting in Shirebrook, Nottinghamshire Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
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Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has lashed out at an influential shareholder lobby group, accusing it of “fake news” for claims over its executive pay ratios.

The retailer said a report by Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) “incorrectly claims that Sports Direct had a chief executive-to-average employee pay ratio of 400:1, the second highest in the FTSE 350”.

The data sets used in the study were “incorrect”, according to the retailer, and based on a bonus entitlement which was accrued by former chief executive Dave Forsey, but was never paid out.

A Sports Direct spokesman said: “This is fake news that appears to have been either deliberately or recklessly circulated by an irresponsible organisation that is making headlines at the expense of Sports Direct.

“We have contacted PIRC to request a copy of the report and we will be writing to them to express our disappointment. It is incorrect to state that Sports Direct has the second-highest ratio of chief executive-to-average employee pay.”

Sports Direct added that the true ratio over 2012 to 2015, had it paid out, would have been “closer to 9:1”.

Mr Ashley, who came under fire from MPs over ‘’Victorian’’ working conditions at the firm’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, last year, has been a busy man recently.

Last week the tycoon said Sports Direct will appoint an employees’ representative who will attend board meetings following the uproar over working conditions.

He has also snapped up an 11 per cent stake in French Connection and upped the position Sports Direct has in Debenhams to above 11 per cent.