Retail news round-up: Standard Life to oppose Sports Direct’s pay policy and Schroders sells its French Connection stake

Standard Life to oppose Sports Direct’s pay policy

Standard Life Investments is increasing pressure on Sports Direct over excessive pay rises and Mike Ashley’s dominance, The Guardian reported.

In its annual stewardship report, Standard Life Investments said that it would continue to call for change on issues at Sports Direct including the influence of Mike Ashley.

The report said: “We have been concerned for some time about governance arrangements at Sports Direct.

“The board lacks independence and the non-executive directors lack the appropriate skills and experience to enable robust challenge of the executive team, particularly the founder and major shareholder Mike Ashley.

“We also have major concerns regarding its remuneration policy.

“We have engaged with senior executives and non-executives over many years on these issues, but to little effect.

“We will monitor future developments and expect to engage further over the coming year.

Schroders sells its French Connection stake

Schroders, French Connection’s second-largest stakeholder, which owned a 9.27% stake, has sold its shares to an unknown buyer, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Schroders sold its shares for 33p each.

This move increased the retailer's share price 18.6% to 39.75p.

Gatemore, OTK Holding and Zoar Invest, which together own about 15% of the shares, have called for a boardroom clearout and a sale of the business.

Waterstones reports profit

Waterstones has reported a pre-tax profit of £9.8m in the year to April 30, 2016 compared with a £4.5m loss in the year earlier, The Guardian reported.

This is its first annual profit since the 2008 financial crisis.

The profit was owing to the rise in sales of children’s books, teenage literature, and fiction.

Sales increased 4.3% to £409m.

During the Christmas period, sales increased 4.7%.