Mike Ashley takes charge as Sports Direct chief quits

Mike Ashley said Dave Forsey's resignation was like losing his right arm. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Mike Ashley said Dave Forsey's resignation was like losing his right arm. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
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Dave Forsey has resigned as the long-standing chief executive of Sports Direct, with founder Mike Ashley replacing him, the embattled retailer said today.

The firm, which this week bowed to investor demands for an independent review of its working practices, said Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United, would be supported in his role by its existing executive management team, “and Dave Forsey has agreed to facilitate a smooth handover of his responsibilities”

Ashley, who is also Sports Direct’s controlling shareholder, said: “I feel like I have lost my right arm, but I do hope to have the opportunity to work with Dave again in the future.”

READ MORE: Martin Flanagan: Mike Ashley bows to ‘internal’ pressure

Forsey added that he had “given my entire working life to the company and in return the company has given me amazing opportunities and experiences”.

His departure comes after a gruelling year for Sports Direct, which has seen the chain come under fire for working conditions at its Shirebrook warehouse and its corporate governance practices.

Ashley has been lambasted for using zero-hour contracts, presiding over “Victorian” working practices and was grilled by MPs in June, where he admitted that some warehouse staff were paid below the national minimum wage. Earlier this week, Sports Direct said it would carry an independent review of working practices and corporate governance, following concerns raised by shareholders.

Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell, who earlier this month offered his own resignation before agreeing to remain with the firm, said: “I would like to thank Dave for his significant contribution over the last 32 years and during a period of significant growth and change at the company. On behalf of all the people at Sports Direct I wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Sports Direct also announced today that its head of retail, Karen Byers, has been promoted to the role of global head of operations, while Sean Nevitt, head of buying, becomes global head of commercial.

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