Sports Direct update says profits on track, HoF aims unchanged, names new chairman

Sports Direct issued what might just about qualify as the shortest trading update ever early on Wednesday and had some more news later when it named a new chairman. 


Sports Direct/Adidas

Ahead of the company’s annual general meeting, it said that “trading is in line with our expectations of achieving between a 5% and 15% improvement in underlying EBITDA for the current financial year, excluding the acquisition of House of Fraser.”

And the company’s chairman Keith Hellawell said that he won’t seek re-election to the board and is set to retire with effect from the conclusion of today's AGM. David Daly, a non-executive director, will take up the role of chairman at the same time. 

Several shareholder advisory groups had urged investors to vote against the re-election of 76-year-old Hellawell on continuing concerns about employment practices at the firm and poor corporate governance.

Meanwhile Nicola Frampton is to join the board as a new non-executive director. She’ s a senior executive at gambling firm William Hill, which may not seem very relevant, but she’s MD of the UK Retail division there so will clearly bring import experience of stores to her new role.

LACK OF INFORMATION

Back with that trading update, it’s a shame that it didn't mention any sales figures as, coming just a day after a stunning set of six-month results from big rival JD Sports, it would have underlined whether the success of JD at the moment is mostly of its own making, or is part of the general trend towards consumers buying more casual and athletic shoes and clothing.

The well-publicised woes currently being endured by smaller peer Footasylum would suggest the former scenario, so any update from Sports Direct would have helped us fill in the blanks.

But it was not to be. So did we get any update on the firm’s ownership of House of Fraser? Not much. Chief executive Mike Ashley added: “Our strategy to transform House of Fraser into the Harrods of the High Street will be a game-changer.”

Clearly, the struggle to get to grips with how many stores to keep open and when the company’s webstore will reopen (it remains closed at the moment) haven't deterred Ashley from his aim of turning around House of Fraser.

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