Sports Direct’s staff awarded £50,000 bonus

Kasmira Jefford
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AROUND 2,000 Sports Direct staff are set to cash in on shares worth more than £50,000 this summer after the retailer hit its profit targets under its generous staff bonus share plan.

Under the terms of the scheme put in place in 2009, an average qualifying employee earning £20,000 a year will be awarded a bonus that – at today’s share price of 454.5p – will be worth more than £54,000.

The payment comes after staff were allowed to sell 5,000 shares worth around £15,000 in August last year.

Sports Direct, which also owns Lillywhites and in February bought failed fashion retailer Republic, said yesterday it was “certain” of meeting its 2013 earnings target of £270m, meaning staff can look forward to reaping further payouts next year.

The 470-store chain, controlled by Newcastle United’s billionaire owner Mike Ashley, posted a 14 per cent jump in total sales in the nine weeks to the end of March to £317.4m – up from £278m a year earlier.

That followed a 21 per cent rise in its third quarter after a strong Christmas trading period, benefitting from the demise of rival JJB, which collapsed in October last year.

Dave Forsey, Sports Direct’s chief executive said its strong performance demonstrated “the resilience” of its business model.

“Within our Sports division online sales now represent circa 15 per cent of total Sports Retail sales, he added.

Gross profit in the nine week period surged 22.7 per cent to £128.6m.