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Sports Direct announces independent company will replace RPC to review working practices and corporate governance

Caitlin Morrison
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Sports Direct has come under fire in recent months over its working practices (Source: Getty)

Sports Direct announced this morning that it would appoint a new independent party to conduct a review of its working practices and corporate governance - replacing RPC.

Shares in the company were up 3.3 per cent mid-morning.

20 September 2016 @ 10:45amSports Direct Intl (SPD)

The embattled retailer said in a report released at the beginning of September that RPC would lead a further review into working practices, and appointed RPC to lead the investigation.

However, the company said the decision to find a different company to carry out the review was made "after listening to shareholder feedback at the recent AGM/open day and during subsequent consultation with a number of the company's long-standing shareholders via the Investor Forum". The influential shareholder group said earlier this month that it doesn't want "any more quick fixes" from Sports Direct.

The Investor Forum's executive director, Andy Griffiths, said today: "We welcome this positive step, responding to the views of independent shareholders. Our members believe this is an opportunity to bring about meaningful and lasting change, and are committed to working constructively with the board and the independent reviewer to ensure it can be a turning point in rebuilding trust.” ​​

Sports Direct said: "The board will continue constructive dialogue with the company's independent shareholders in order to reach agreement regarding the specific nature and timing of the review.

"RPC will continue to be a valued legal advisor to Sports Direct, and the board would like to thank RPC for its work on the existing working practices report, which was compiled to the highest standards."

The retailer also announced that it will select a workers' representative, who will take a seat on the Sports Direct board, via democratic staff elections, with more details to be released at a later date.

Sports Direct has been struggling to clean up its image after being slammed by MPs earlier this year over the "appalling" working conditions at its Shirebrook operation - which was described as being similar to a "Victorian workhouse".

At the firm's recent AGM, shareholders made their displeasure known, voting to oust chairman Keith Hellawell - although the former police chief constable said he will remain on the board until next year's AGM.

Paul Lee, head of corporate governance at Aberdeen Asset Management, said: "There is much more work to be done but hopefully today is the first step on the long journey to rebuild investor trust and to rectify the problems at Sports Direct. All shareholders want a well governed, sustainable business.”

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