Mike Ashley: I should have done better overseeing corporate governance issues

Mike Ashley: I should have done better overseeing corporate governance issues

Mike Ashley, Founder and Deputy Chairman of Sports Direct, has admitted that he should have done a better job managing the corporate governance and HR problems that have beset the company.

Speaking to BBC One's Breakfast, he also conceded that he’s a PR nightmare and attributed the current state of his firm’s reputation on “odd isolated instances” and “[a few] rotten apples in the barrel”.

When challenged that, as Founder of Sports Direct, he should know what’s going on, he said: “You’d be surprised how little I knew - and that’s where the failing was.

“Should I have known more, yes? Did I know what was happening? Absolutely not.”

He added that he can’t watch every shift at the Shirebrook, Derbyshire warehouse.

After acknowledging that he should have done a better job of overseeing the corporate governance and HR issues that plague the firm, he said he will now take a more hands-on role.

When pressed on how long overhauling the issues will take, he said: “You get to the top of a mountain, and then you see there’s another mountain. It will never stop. Even when I’m dead it will never stop.”

On the issue of pay, he said the National Minimum Wage should be set at the National Living Wage by the government, before revealing that his company has paid out more than £200million in staff bonuses in the last five years – including an £80,000 bonus for the cleaning lady.

He ended by saying: “Clearly I’ve taken my eye off the ball. I’ve said sorry, I’ve said I’m going to fix it, and I will.”

This morning’s interview came after the company agreed to hold an independent review of its working practices and corporate governance.

They told shareholders: “Sports Direct today announces that the forthcoming ‘360-degree’ review of working practices and corporate governance which was announced on 6 September 2016 and which was to be led by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) will now be led by an independent party other than RPC.” 

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