Mike Ashley’s recent court fiasco is another hit to Sports Direct’s brand and reputation - at least for now

Stephan Shakespeare
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Mike Ashley has been at the centre of a recent court case (Source: Getty)

Over the last couple of years we have explored in this column how Sports Direct’s consumer perception has shifted as a consequence of a series of investigations, negative headlines and less positive financial results – and seen how its value for money offer remains appealing to its core customer base.

Following Mike Ashley’s recent appearance in court, Sports Direct’s buzz score (whether a person has heard something positive or negative about the brand) once again dropped sharply, falling from minus seven to minus 14 over the last week. The retailer had been making progress on this front, its score steadily rising since the turn of the year.

Read more: Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley dismisses £15m promise as "drink banter"

The positive news for Sports Direct is that as the court case continues, its overall impression score (whether you have a favourable impression of a brand) has only dropped by three points (from minus 17 to minus 20) – far less than when allegations relating to working practices in its warehouse were revealed or when Ashley appeared in front of MPs. What is also crucial is its impression score has not shifted at all among those that would consider shopping at the retailer.

Consumers – and indeed investors – may well have priced in the ongoing negative press around both Sports Direct and its founder and have separated it from their wider view of the business more generally.

Read more: Sports Direct's only female director steps down

For those choosing to shop at the brand’s stores, the assumption is that they will still be enticed by the prices. Indeed, Sports Direct’s value for money metric highlights this – currently sitting at 10 among all respondents. This is the highest it has been since September 2015.

This has had an impact on Sports Direct’s purchase consideration score, looking at the brand’s performance since the turn of the year we see gradual improvement, so much so that its score has increased by five points, from 14 to 19. With household budgets tightening, the retailer is well placed to capitalise – despite any negative headlines generated by its increasingly famous figurehead.

Read more: Sports Direct agency Transline poised to fall into administration

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