More than half of shoppers have said negative coverage of Sports Direct has not deterred them from visiting the retailer, a poll has found. 

The exclusive survey, conducted by ICM on behalf of Retail Week, found that 54% of those questioned were not put off by the coverage of Sports Direct’s alleged questionable employment practices.   

It came as Mike Ashley, Sports Direct’s founder, issued a fresh snub to MPs who are demanding he give evidence to Parliament to answer the criticism. The retailer has faced a wave of negative headlines, including being slapped across the front page of the Guardian on consecutive days, over its alleged treatment of warehouse staff and its use of zero-hour contracts.

However, one in four of the 2,011 adults surveyed online in the ICM poll said they had not heard anything about Sports Direct and its employment practices. 

A third said though that, while they were aware of the claims, they had not altered how they felt about the retailer.

However, 30% said they did feel ”less favourable” towards Sports Direct after hearing about its alleged treatment of staff.

Of those surveyed, 71% said they had shopped at Sports Direct, with 29% saying it had been in the last six months.

Ashley yesterday blasted the MPs wanting to question him, labelling them a “joke” and said he would challenge the formal order to appear before MPs, which he branded an “abuse of the Parliamentary process”.