Sports Direct’s chairman has narrowly survived a vote by independent shareholders to remain in the role.
Keith Hellawell received 53.24% of votes at the sports retailer’s 2017 AGM, despite vocal opposition from a number of institutional shareholders and advisers leading up to the crunch meeting.
He previously survived a vote in January despite independent shareholders voting against his re-election at the time. Hellawell then stated that he would step down if they voted against him again at the 2017 AGM.
Sports Direct has claimed to have improved its governance in recent months, following a review on working practices led by law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain at the start of the year. This has included a refreshed executive and non-executive board membership, and new staff health and wellbeing structures put in place.
But a number of organisations stated there were ongoing governance and operational concerns. Some shareholders also said they would vote against the re-election of chief executive Mike Ashley and senior non-executive Simon Bentley. Both survived the latest vote, although Bentley narrowly so—with 55.30% in favour of him staying.
Sports Direct said it was still optimistic of achieving EBITDA growth in the region of 5% to 15% during the 2018 financial year, in a trading update.
Shareholder consultancy ISS previously stated it would vote against Sports Direct auditor Grant Thornton’s reappointment—and against its remuneration. Both votes were passed at the AGM. Grant Thornton is being investigated by the Financial Reporting Council over Sports Direct failing to reveal a related party transaction in its accounts.