Pension fund group calls for corporate governance review at Sports Direct

Helen Cahill
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A small majority of independent investors saved the chairman yesterday (Source: Getty)

A group of UK pension funds has called for a review of working practices and corporate governance at Sports Direct.

Sports Direct has been under pressure to change the way it does business after a parliamentary inquiry concluded its Shirebrook warehouse was run like a "Victorian workhouse".

There are also concerns about corporate governance, as investors have struggled to make their voices heard due to chief executive Mike Ashley's majority shareholding in the firm.

Read more: Sports Direct's chairman lives to fight another day

Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has demanded change, saying that Sports Direct's chairman Keith Hellawell should resign.

At last year's annual general meeting (AGM), Hellawell pledged to walk if he did not receive the backing of independent investors at this year's vote.

Yesterday, he narrowly survived the vote, with 53 per cent of independent shareholders voting in his favour.

Kieran Quinn, chairman of LAPFF, said that Hellawell only survived the vote by a small majority and that there was still a significant level of discontent with his performance.

He suggested that a new chairman should carry out a review of the business.

"This outcome also drives home the importance of having investors remain invested in and engaged with companies in order to promote change reflecting LAPFF's position on responsible investment," Quinn said.

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