Retail news round-up: Sports Direct to appoint workers’ rep, John Lewis distribution centres and BHS customer data bought by Qatari firm.

Sports Direct to assign workers’ representative to give “voice” at board level

Sports Direct has revealed its plans to place a workers’ representative on the retailer’s board in a bid to “give them a voice at the highest level and to help ensure that all employees are treated with dignity and respect".

It is still unclear how the representative will be selected but is likely to be elected.

In a radio interview released by Sports Direct, founder Mike Ashley said the board move will offer a "great benefit" and provide "input that is invaluable".

Serious Fraud Office could reveal decision over Tesco profits misstatement

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is poised to unveil its decision as soon as this week whether it plans to charge former Tesco executives in relation to the accounting scandal that rocked the grocer in autumn 2014, according to Sky News.

The SFO, which launched its formal investigation in October 2014, is also understood to be nearing a conclusion to its wider probe into the retailer, which was forced to admit that profits had been overstated by more than £260m.

Prosecutors could still delay formal decisions and a corresponding announcement until after this week, sources said.

Meanwhile, Tesco has the worst corporate governance, according to the Institute of Directors.

It has been placed at the bottom of the index of best boardroom practice of UK’s top 100 companies.

John Lewis opens hi-tech distribution centres in Milton Keynes

John Lewis has opened two highly automated distribution warehouses in Milton Keynes in order to tap into the increasing demand for internet shopping, The Times reported.

The retailer said it invested £150m to design the modern facilities at its Magna Park campus. With the existing warehouse, the enlarged campus will comprise 2.4 million sq ft of space.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said the openings at Magna Park was the “end of an 11-year journey” for the department store chain.

Street said the new centre would allow John Lewis to consolidate fashion and non-fashion orders into one delivery for the first time.

He also added that 500 new jobs would be created at the site, which also houses specialist training centres for staff at the employee-owned organisation.

BHS customers’ personal records purchased by Qatari firm Al Mana

BHS customers’ personal data has been bought by Qatari conglomerate Al Mana Group, according to the Mail.

Wissam Al Mana-run firm is thought to have purchased the details of customers who had used the website or had shared their information in store promotions at the collapsed chain.

The sale formed part of a deal by the group to buy the BHS International brand, its website and some foreign stores from the administrators, wrapping up the retailer's assets.

A spokesman for Al Mana Group said: “Under relevant Data Protection legislation, we have a legal requirement to contact people on this list to provide them with certain information, which we have now done.”

Property group Hermes inserts anti-slavery clauses in new lease contracts

Sports Direct’s landlord and commercial property group, Hermes Real Estate, has asked its lawyers to start including anti-slavery clauses in all new tenancy contracts amid rising scrutiny of staff working practices at retailers, Sky News reported.

The provisions do not apply to existing lease agreements, according to people close to the situation.

Hermes Real Estate chief executive Chris Taylor had written to Sports Direct's company secretary, Cameron Olsen, to express its concerns about the retailer, sources revealed.

“We believe that good human capital management, including the provision of fair living wages, robust health and safety practices and investment in training and development programmes, is the foundation of a stable and productive workforce and the maintenance of businesses' social licences to operate," Taylor is understood to have said.