Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey has pleaded not guilty to charges in relation to the controversial pre-pack administration of its young fashion chain USC in January.
Forsey is accused of failing to notify authorities of plans to make several USC warehouse staff redundant.
Under law, if an employer is thinking about making 20 or more employees redundant within a 90-day period they must follow a detailed consultation process and inform the Secretary of State.
He did not attend the hearing on Wednesday, but entered the not guilty plea through his legal team. Robert Palmer, of joint USC administrator Gallagher Partnership, also pleaded not guilty to the same charge.
The case has now been adjourned until March 14 2016.
If found guilty, Forsey could be fined up to £5,000.
Forsey was originally due to appear at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court, Derbyshire, on August 15, but the hearing was adjourned until October 14.
Stock was removed from the USC warehouse in Dundonald, South Ayrshire, on January 7 and Sports Direct appointed administrators to the retailer on January 13. Warehouse staff were told their jobs had been axed the next day – they claim with just 15 minutes’ notice.
Sports Direct said there was insufficient time for a consultation as the decision to close the warehouse was made too soon after the chain went into administration.
Earlier this week, it emerged Forsey stepped down as company secretary of Mash Holdings, the holding company for all of Ashley’s investments, on August 1.
The Insolvency Service, which launched the proceedings against Forsey, said an investigation into the conduct of the retailer’s directors is ongoing but at an early stage.
Last week, an employment tribunal ordered USC’s administrators to set aside the equivalent of 90 days’ redundancy for 50 of the former workers.
Sports Direct confirmed the charges against Forsey but declined to comment further.