Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct company branded ‘total shambles’ over results delay

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's Sports Direct company has been called a "total shambles" after the retailer delayed publishing its results for the second time in as many weeks.

By Gavin Ledwith
Friday, 26 July, 2019, 15:08
Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley.

Mike Ashley's Sports Direct has been called a "total shambles" after the retailer delayed publishing its results for the second time in as many weeks.

The FTSE 250 business, which also owns Flannels, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and sofa.com among others, had been due to release its full-year results on Friday at 7am.

Investors were keen to hear more about the takeover spree embarked on this year - with House of Fraser of particular interest - after bosses revealed in December last year that it had made a loss of £31.5 million since it was bought for £90 million last August.

But by 8am on Friday, when the stock market opened, the results were still missing, all planned calls with the media and analysts in the City were cancelled, and a presentation to investors at the retailer's London head office was scrapped.

A spokesman for Sports Direct said: "Unfortunately we are still finalising preliminary results.

"We anticipate that our annual results will still be released today, with a presentation to follow, and will update again at midday.

"Apologies for any inconvenience."

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This was subsequently amended to a 2pm update, and then a 4pm update.

Mr Ashley also declined to comment when reached on his mobile phone by journalists from the Press Association.

Sports Direct was asked why there was a delay, why the company failed to provide an explanation, and whether the decision to postpone was made by the company or its auditors, Grant Thornton.

Sports Direct and Grant Thornton both declined to comment.

Analysts were withering in their condemnation of Sports Direct.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "It's a total and utter shambles, and betrays a number of problems at the business after (Mike) Ashley embarked on his rather random acquisition spree. Above all, it betrays a total disregard for shareholders.

"It not only raises questions about the haphazard way in which the investor relations and finance teams are run, but also could suggest a material problem with the numbers."