Sports Direct has hit back after Mike Ashley’s attempt to install a director on the Findel board failed, saying that the firm has “under-delivered for shareholders”.
Mike Ashley-owned Sports Direct, which acquired an 18.9% share of Findel, the owner of football strip retailer Kitbag, on September 19, proposed to appoint Benjamin Gardener to its board at a general meeting held yesterday (December 21). Only 19.11% of shareholders voted in favour of appointing Gardener, who is managing director of intellectual property protection company International Brand Solutions. He has worked for, and with, Sports Direct in various guises since 2004, including as global head of brands.
Sports Direct, which typically declines to enter public debate, said: “[We] believed that the combination of Sports Direct as a supportive shareholder with retail expertise and Mr Gardener as a board director would have added value to Findel for the benefit of all of its shareholders.”
The retailer called Findel’s commentary to shareholders, which was subsequently reported in the press, “unfair, inaccurate and unjustified”.
Earlier this month Findel’s board argued that Gardener’s inclusion would compromise its independence, and pointed out that Sports Direct is a director competitor to Kitbag. It said the most “appropriate” way for Sports Direct to gain control of Findel was “to make a fair offer for the whole company”.
Sports Direct has now said: “Findel should focus on trying to run its business more successfully and not reject offers of specialist assistance. All the Findel business segments could have been improved for the benefit of all of its shareholders with the retail expertise of Sports Direct. Mr Gardener could have helped in all these regards and would have been a positive addition to a board that Sports Direct believes has under-delivered for its shareholders.”