Sports Direct has hit out at shareholders for rejecting Mike Ashley’s bonus scheme as profits jumped in its fourth quarter.

Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said: “The board was extremely disappointed to withdraw the resolution regarding a proposed share scheme award to Mike Ashley. The most disappointing aspect was where large shareholders gave their support only to then vote differently. This outcome is likely to lead to further uncertainty in the future.”

Shareholders rejected the proposal earlier this year. It was the second time they have refused to back a bonus for Mike Ashley, who founded Sports Direct.

Sports Direct gross profit jumped 11.5% to £147m in its nine weeks to March 30. Group sales advanced 10.3% to £360m while sports retail sales rose 11% to £293.3m.   Sports retail gross profit increased 14.9% to £120.4m.

Forsey said: “Sports Retail continues to perform well since the end of January, primarily driven by our on-going focus on exceptional quality, unbeatable value, availability and the continued optimisation of sales between stores and online.

“While we retain the ability to invest in margin, inventory and group marketing to deliver long-term sustainable growth, the board is very confident of achieving at least our full year internal underlying EBITDA target of £310m, before the charge for the Employee Bonus Share Scheme.”

Meanwhile, gross profit at its premium lifestyle division, which includes USC and Cruise, fell 4.1% to £9.9m while sales edged up 0.7% to £27.1m.

Revenue at the brands division advanced 2.8% to £39.6m with gross profit remaining level at £16.7m.

Sports Direct unveils its full year results on July 17.