Mike Ashley: Mr Kringle or Mr Scrooge?

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Is Mike Ashley, owner of sports retailer Sports Direct, Mr Kringle (Miracle on 34th Street) or Mr Scrooge (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)?

That depends on your employment contract.

Permanent

Around 2000 staff, on a full time directly employed permanent contract, were able to join a 2011 incentive scheme. It’s just matured and they’ve shared a £43m bonus, with an average individual payout of £20k.

However, that’s under 10% of the workforce. What’s more, many of the beneficiaries work at the firm’s head office.

Casual

The vast majority of employees are on agency, zero hour, temporary contracts. They are ineligible for such schemes.

The firm’s poor treatment of this staff type remains a hot topic.

Charges levelled at the company include not paying the minimum wage, subjecting employees to “gulag” style treatment and not providing guaranteed minimum hours.

It culminated in a parliamentary enquiry and an attempt by independent shareholders to dethrone the company’s chairman.

Poor corporate governance

These independent shareholders are worried about how Sports Direct is run.

The firm has done little to address worker treatment concerns: it’s failed to deliver a promised independent review and has yet to increase the number of staff on permanent contracts.

They’re also anxious about the debt the firm is amassing: it’s currently investing in “destination stores”. The outlets will look snazzier, with the hope that big brands like Adidas and Nike will want to showcase their latest, premium offerings there.

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