Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley is preparing for the group’s AGM next week, where shareholders are expected to kick up a fuss about Ashley’s “continued failures”.
Two shareholder advisory groups are telling investors to vote against the re-election of Ashley and Keith Hellawell, the company’s chairman.
The Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (Pirc) said that the main concerns include “the excessive influence of Mike Ashley over the board and the running of the company”, as well as describing the absence of female directors on the board as “not acceptable”.
The advisory group also said the board had continually failed to deal with the issues of employment, where an MP report described warehouse conditions similar to a “Victorian workhouse” in 2016.
Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a second advisory group, also warned shareholders about Ashley as a boss. The group warned of “ongoing operational, governance and risk oversight concerns.”
Both advisory groups are urging investors to vote against Ashley and Hellawell at the meeting that will take place on 12 September.
A spokesperson for Sports Direct said: “We hope shareholders will continue to recognise the further positive progress that we have made over the last 12 months.”
Last week the Reputation Institute, the world’s leading research and advisory firm for reputation, released a report that named Sports Direct as “the UK’s least reputable retailer”.
The retailer performed poorly in the following categories: workplace, governance, citizenship and leadership.
Concerns grew this year as Ashley appointed his future son-in-law, to the “head of elevation”, with a £5 million pay package.
Michael Murray, the fiance of Ashley’s daughter Anna, reportedly live in in a £10.7 million home in Belgravia.
The most recent scandal for the retailers comes weeks after the retailer’s boss purchased House of Fraser in a deal worth £90 million. The Sports Direct boss is negotiating with landlords over how many of the group’s 59 outlets will close.
Shares in the group (LON: SPD) are trading up 0.34 percent at 383,00 (1324GMT).