Friday 31 August 2018 4:52 pm

Mike Ashley will be absent from this year’s Sports Direct AGM

Retail and leisure reporter

Retail and leisure reporter

Follow Alys Key

Mike Ashley will not face investors at this year's Sports Direct AGM, due to "overriding demands on his time".

Chairman Keith Hellawell will chair the meeting on 12 September as planned, but the company's founder and chief executive will be absent, Sports Direct said in an announcement this afternoon.

Mike Ashley's acquisition of House of Fraser at the beginning of this month has put a lot on the tycoon's plate as he tries to turn it into the "Harrods of the high street".

In the past few weeks, Sports Direct has slammed HoF's "greedy" landlords and placed orders with suppliers. Ashley reportedly turned up in person to negotiate the reopening of two warehouses, though both have now closed again according to Drapers.

Ashley has been given a hard time by investors at previous AGMs, when he has faced attempts to oust his chairman and awkward questions about working conditions and stakes in other companies.

Shareholder dissatisfaction with Ashley dates back many years. But because he owns the majority of shares in the company, he has been able to keep control of major decisions, prompting calls for better governance at the company.

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