August 25, 2017 / 5:02 PM / in a year

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley to skip AGM next month

(Reuters) - Mike Ashley, the billionaire chief executive of Sports Direct (SPD.L), which has been heavily criticised for its treatment of workers and poor corporate governance, will skip the British retailer’s annual general meeting next month.

FILE PHOTO: Mike Ashley, founder and majority shareholder of sportwear retailer Sports Direct, arrives at the company's AGM, at the company's headquarters in Shirebrook, Britain, September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

The company said Chairman Keith Hellawell will preside over the Sept. 6 meeting at the company’s headquarters in Shirebrook, in the East Midlands.

“...Mike Ashley recently hosted a detailed and constructive Q&A session with stakeholders in July, and due to conflicting demands for his time in other areas of the business, with the agreement of the Board he will not be required to attend this year’s AGM,” the sportswear chain said in a statement on Friday.

Hellawell has also faced criticism, with investors blaming him for a number of management and governance failures at the sportswear group, and he only kept his job at the annual meeting last September with the help of Ashley’s majority control.

Sports Direct reported a 29 percent drop in annual earnings in July as a slide in sterling’s value made it more costly for the firm to source its branded goods from Asia.

It has also drawn criticism from British lawmakers and investors over poor working conditions and corporate governance.

Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton

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