Sports Direct does actually care about its public image

Mike Ashley will personally oversee a review of warehouse working conditions after they were raised in Parliament.

by Adam Gale
Credit: Ewan Munro/Flickr
Credit: Ewan Munro/Flickr

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Sports Direct wasn’t really fussed about how it’s perceived by non-customers. But apparently this is a company that listens to criticism. Following an undercover Guardian investigation into conditions at the firm’s Shirebrook warehouse, its founder, majority shareholder and ‘Executive Deputy Chairman’ Mike Ashley will personally oversee a review of agency worker terms and conditions.

If the sight of renowned HR guru Ashley prowling the warehouse with his clipboard and inspection rod isn’t enough to solve the problem, it’s hard to know what would. On the other hand, there may not be a problem at all. Sports Direct issued a statement today refuting at length the ‘unfounded’ allegations that its warehouse resembled a Dickensian workhouse.

‘The warehouse tannoy is not used to "harangue" or "name and shame" staff,’ the firm said, but for ‘logistical reasons’. The company ‘does not penalise its staff for being ill’ either, merely applying sanctions if workers don’t follow the ‘reasonable sickness absence notification procedures, which are in line with industry best practice’.

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