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Sports Direct chairman vows to stay

Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell has vowed to remain at the helm of the company despite its relegation from the FTSE 100.

Keith Hellawell chairman Sports Direct

It comes despite calls for his resignation from campaigners and some shareholders, who have expressed growing concerns about the group’s trading, as well as the treatment of workers in its Shirebrook warehouse.

This comes on top of existing questions from the City over Sports Direct’s corporate governance, including majority shareholder Mike Ashley’s failure to hire a permanent finance director for two years.

But when asked if he would stay, Hellawell told the Guardian: “That is the plan, yes.”

He downplayed the severity of shareholders’ concerns and said work was being done to address them: ”I think there are a number of issues we are looking at in relation to the way in which we relate to the City – our investor relations certainly need to be improved.

“The issues in relation to corporate governance are very often overstated and they relate to the time we have been without a finance director, which we are resolving.”

Sports Direct’s relegation from the FTSE 100 was formally confirmed last week following a £1.6bn drop in its value over three months. It is now ranked as the 142nd most valuable company on the main list of the London stock exchange.

The retailer issued a profit warning in January saying it was “no longer confident” that it would meet its underlying EBITDA target of £420m for the full year.

On Sports Direct’s review of all agency staff terms and conditions, Hellawell said: “I think it’s still under review. [Ashley] is looking at a lot of things within the company, particularly in relation to the way we reward our staff which, obviously, we regard quite highly. He reported to the last board on the work that was being done and he’ll report to the next board on further developments.”

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