JD Sports will launch an investigation into how policies are being implemented at its main warehouse following claims of harsh working practices.  

The sportswear retailer has come in for stinging criticism following an undercover Channel 4 report, which included a claim that working at its Rochdale distribution centre is “worse than prison”.

Channel 4 found that workers could face the sack for sitting down and be threatened with “strikes” for offences such as being caught with chocolates or lighters.

However, JD Sports insisted that it did not operate a strikes policy at Kingsway Business Park site and workers could not be fired on the spot.

MP Iain Wright, chairman of parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, told Channel 4 he was “disgusted” by the findings.

In a stock market filing today, the retailer said it was “deeply disappointed and concerned by the footage broadcast by Channel 4”.  

It added: “While we do not believe it to be an accurate reflection of our culture, the vast majority of our people or our standards of practice and procedures, we will be launching an investigation into the implementation of our policies at our Kingsway facility.

“While we maintain that the policies and procedures in place are robust and fair, it is clear that we need to do better in their implementation.

“In the short term, we intend to retrain all supervisory and security employees at the facility, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that those policies are correctly reflected across the workplace.

It added: “Our employees are vital to our business, so we take any such allegations very seriously.

“As a result, we will undertake to conduct a review of all our policies, their communication and implementation at the site, with the clear aim not only to continue the improvement of the facility, but also to think about the future structure of employment at the site for the benefit of all the people employed at Kingsway. 

”We undertake to be transparent regarding the changes we make, both to our employees and other stakeholders.” 

The company said it would “readily open our doors to an appropriate independent body wishing to scrutinise our operations at Kingsway”.