Ashley’s payout plan is rejected by shareholders

Kasmira Jefford
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SHAREHOLDERS in Sports Direct yesterday rejected a proposed “super-stretch” scheme that could have netted its founder Mike Ashley a multi-million pound bonus.

Under the proposals tabled at yesterday’s annual general meeting Ashley would have received 8m shares worth around £25m at yesterday’s share price if the retailer hit a series of targets over the next three years.

While over 60 per cent voted in favour of the scheme, the level of proxies did not reach the required 75 per cent necessary for a special resolution.

Ashley was not allowed to vote his holding. The Newcastle United football club owner owns 71 per cent of Sports Direct’s equity and receives no pay for his role as executive deputy chairman.

Dave Singleton, chairman of the remuneration committee, said: “As a board, we are very disappointed that this resolution was not passed, however we respect shareholders’ views.”

He said new scheme with further performance criteria will be proposed to shareholders at a future meeting.

The outcome of the AGM came after Britain’s biggest sporting goods retailer said that sales jumped 25 per cent to £519m in the first quarter of the year, while gross profits rose 20.4 per cent to £211.1m.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said trading since the end of July has remained equally strong, with Great Britain’s strong performance during the Olympics helping to boost UK sales.

The group, which has around 400 UK stores, has seen shares rally almost 50 per cent this year. Its performance contrasts with that of struggling rival JJB which put itself up for sale last week.