Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sports Direct Hit by Fall of Sterling; BUT ASHLEY STILL BUYING A NEW PS40M JET

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sports Direct Hit by Fall of Sterling; BUT ASHLEY STILL BUYING A NEW PS40M JET

Article excerpt

Byline: Ravender Sembhy Reporter

PROFITS at Sports Direct have taken a hammering following the collapse in sterling - but it has not stopped billionaire owner Mike Ashley splashing out on a new corporate jet.

The retailer said underlying earnings plunged 33.5% to PS145.3m in the first half of the year, slumping even further on a pre-tax basis, by 57% to PS71.6m.

Mr Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United, said: "The last six months have been tough for our people and performance. Our UK Sports Retail business continues to be the engine of Sports Direct, but our results have been affected by the significant deterioration in exchange rates, and our assessment of our risk relating to our stock levels and European stores performance."

The company said revenue rose 14% to PS1.6bn, but warned of a challenging environment which the firm expects to continue into the "foreseeable future".

I begin to whether intense all motivated Keith Nevertheless, the half year results also reveal that, in order to "facilitate efficiencies", Sports Direct will be taking delivery of a corporate plane in the coming weeks at a cost of PS40m.

The news comes after a string of controversies for the firm which has seen Mr Ashley hauled before MPs to be grilled over working conditions; the company host a tumultuous "open day" at its headquarters; and its chief executive Dave Forsey quit - only to be replaced by Mr Ashley.

Mr Ashley sought to address the shambolic year through the trading statement, claiming again that he would like Sports Direct to become the "Selfridges of sports retail".

"What matters most to me is how tough the last year has been for the people who work at Sports Direct. Our people have once again found themselves in the spotlight through no fault of their own, yet they remain hardworking and loyal.

"It is for this reason that my immediate priority will be to protect the people at Sports Direct," he said.

But chairman Keith Hellawell, a former police chief, lashed out at what he called an "extreme" campaign against the company and said it was affecting performance.

"I have no doubt that the extreme political, union and media campaign waged against this company has not only damaged its reputation and influenced our customers, it has impacted negatively on the morale of our people. …

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