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Mike Ashley's firm hit by Sports Direct troubles

Pre-tax profits at Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley’s personal investment vehicle have dropped after a tough year for the sportswear retailer.

Ashley’s main assets, Sports Direct and Newcastle United, are controlled through Mash Holdings.

The group’s pre-tax profits tumbled by 47% to £277.7m in the year to 26 April 2016, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

Revenue rose by 2.4% to £3bn, boosted by Sports Direct’s acquisition of Irish retailer Heatons. It had agreed to buy the remaining 50% of the business for €47.5m (£27.8m) in October 2015.

During a year in which Sports Direct came under fire from critics over its working conditions and use of zero-hours contracts, 22% of employees left the business, up on 18.7% the previous year.

The group blamed a “tough trading environment” for Sport’s Direct’s “disappointing” earnings during that year.

Mash Holdings also said a £60.7m exceptional “impairment” was mainly related to Sports Direct’s Austrian business, which has been trading below expectations.

It said that converting former megastores at Austrian retailer Sport Eybl, which it acquired more than half of in 2013, has been “taking longer than expected” while “lost revenue in certain categories is also proving harder to replace than expected”.

Other impairments relate to “certain brands” acquired a number of years ago.

Mash Holdings’ figures preceded another tough year for Sports Direct. In July the retailer reported that underlying profit before tax plummeted by 59% to £113.7m, in the 53 weeks to 30 April 2017.

Underlying EBITDA before share scheme costs was also dented, falling 28.5% to £273m.

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