A general meeting earlier today made it clear that Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell has done little to restore the faith of the retailer’s shareholders.

Despite ultimately retaining his place at the head of the board, only 46% of Sports Direct’s independent shareholders voted in favour of the chairman’s re-election today.

This is only marginally better than the outcome of a shareholder’s revolt at the firm’s AGM in October, when 53% rejected the under-fire Hellawell as chairman, following a slew of negative publicity surrounding working practices, its use of zero-hour contracts and corporate governance.

However, throwing his weight – and his 55% majority stake – around, founder Mike Ashley backed Hellawell, giving him 80.9% of the overall shareholder vote.

But while Hellawell’s role is secure for now, the jury is still out on whether he and Ashley will be able to transform the embattled company’s fortunes.

Hellawell has until Sports Direct’s next AGM in the autumn to convince investors he is the man for the job.

The former police chief constable has vowed to resign if he has not won over shareholders by that point.

If the result of today’s vote is anything to go by, he has plenty of work to do.

Elsewhere, Boots unveiled flat like-for-likes after first-quarter profits slid at its international arm, and John Lewis appointed Becky Brock as its new marketing director.

Quote of the day

“I have spoken to Keith Hellawell this afternoon to inform him that I hope that he will reconsider his intention to stand down if he does not receive the backing of a majority of independent shareholders at the 2017 AGM.”

– Sports Direct founder and chief executive Mike Ashley

Today in numbers


The number of UK staff set to benefit from a pay rise at Aldi, after the discounter gazumped rival Lidl on pay.


The like-for-like fall in pharmacy sales suffered by Boots UK during its first quarter. 

Tomorrow’s agenda

Look out for the latest episode of The Retail Week, when we discuss Next and B&M’s contrasting Christmases and look ahead to a slew of festive trading updates next week.

Emily Hardy, reporter