Discount retailer Sports Direct has been forced to defend itself again, after the Daily Telegraph reported that the company has given the boyfriend of owner Mike Ashley’s daughter a high powered job, and a massive loan in the past few months.
A report first published by the Telegraph over the weekend, revealed that 26-year old Michael Murray, who is the boyfriend of Ashley’s daughter Anna, has apparently been put in charge of a £250 million investment fund, as well as being tasked with expanding Sports Direct’s new fitness brand.
Amazingly, considering the amount of responsibility he has been given, Murray doesn’t have any experience in commercial property development, and was working as a nightclub promoter and festival organiser until last summer.
The Telegraph also reported that Murray was given a big loan to buy a £10.7 million property in Belgravia, London, citing Land Registry documents.
On Monday morning the company issued a statement denying that it has done anything wrong by giving Murray a job, and “clarifying his role” (emphasis ours):
Michael has a consultancy arrangement with the Company, is not paid a salary, and contrary to recent incorrect press reports is not a director of any company within the Sports Direct Group. His remuneration is based solely on creating value, with the Company’s non-executive directors overseeing an independent review annually and deciding, in their absolute discretion, how much of any increased value (up to a maximum of 25%) shall be paid to Michael.
Sports Direct didn’t comment on the loan given to Murray.
Sports Direct has rarely been out of the headlines in recent months. In December last year, the company was forced to defend itself after accusations that workers in its warehouses were mistreated, and that they were effectively being paid below the minimum wage.
The news, which was first uncovered by the Guardian, led to an announcement that Mike Ashley would personally lead a review into working conditions. Since that announcement, the company has said that it will pay all workers more than minimum wage, costing around £10 million ($14.8 million).
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