Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley will shun the retailer’s annual general meeting next week.

Controversial Ashley – who at present is the chief executive of Sports Direct following the departure of Dave Forsey after the retailer was embroiled in scandal – will not attend owing to “conflicting demands for his time in other areas of the business,” the Telegraph reported.

Sports Direct will also not repeat the open day at its Shirebrook headquarters that it ran alongside last year’s AGM.

The open day prompted astonishment last year when Ashley displayed a wad of £50 notes during a security search.

This year’s AGM will be run by chairman Keith Hellawell, even though he has said that he was willing to resign if a majority of independent investors vote against his re-election.

‘Limited regard for investors’

One analyst told the Telegraph that Ashley’s failure to go to the AGM, which is seen as a rare opportunity for independent shareholders to question him, was “another example of Mr Ashley having limited regard for investors”.

Ashley controls 62% of Sports Direct, which has had a turbulent year. The tycoon appeared in a high-profile courtroom showdown with former colleague Jeff Blue and there have been a variety of changes in the boardroom.