Mike Ashley's Sports Direct posts sales rise amid claims he pays staff less than the minimum wage

Mike Ashley (r) chats with Newcastle United Lee CharnleyGettyMike Ashley (r) chats with Newcastle United Lee Charnley.

Sports Direct just reported a rise in sales for the 26 weeks to October 25, reaching £1.434 billion ($2.8 billion).

However, the budget sports retailer’s results come just hours after The Guardian became the latest newspaper to unveil a major investigation that claims that the group’s billionaire owner Mike Ashley is paying some workers less than the minimum wage.

The Guardian’s report claims:

  • Warehouse staff are body searched at the end of their shift but the time to take doing this is not paid for.
  • The report also says staff are punished by having their wages docked if they are just one minute late.
  • Workers in the Derbyshire warehouse are also “harangued” over the site’s tannoy for not working fast enough.
  • Warehouse workers are also allegedly banned from wearing 802 different types of brands at work.

The Guardian even posted a video onto YouTube that allegedly shows Sports Direct staff being searched:

The newspaper report says by using these methods, it can lead workers to only be paid £6.50 ($9.90) per hour, which is below the statutory minimum wage of £6.70 ($10.20). This in turn can save Sports Direct, which has a market capitalisation of £4 billion ($6 billion), hundreds of millions of pounds per year. 

The Guardian’s investigation is pretty lengthy but you should check it out here. 

This isn’t the first time Sports Direct’s working practices have fallen under scrutiny —  Buzzfeed unveiled a massive investigation of its own in May this year.

In October, the BBC also did a report which claimed staff were constantly afraid that they would be fired for taking sick leave. The BBC added that more than 80 calls to ambulances were made from the British company’s headquarters over a two-year period as a result of this.

However, on several occasions, Mike Ashley declared that the results of these various investigations were “unfounded and inaccurate.

Business Insider contacted Sports Direct for comment and will update the story if we hear back from the group’s representatives.

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