An influential shareholder lobby group has been accused by Sports Direct of “fake news” over claims about its executive pay ratios.
The retailer said a report by Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) “incorrectly claims that Sports Direct had a chief executive-to-average employee pay ratio of 400:1, the second highest in the FTSE 350”.
Sports Direct said the data sets used in the study were “incorrect” and based on a bonus entitlement that was accrued by former chief executive Dave Forsey, but was never paid out.
“This is fake news that appears to have been either deliberately or recklessly circulated by an irresponsible organisation that is making headlines at the expense of Sports Direct,” a spokesman for Sports Direct said.
“We have contacted PIRC to request a copy of the report and we will be writing to them to express our disappointment.
“It is incorrect to state that Sports Direct has the second-highest ratio of chief executive-to-average employee pay.”
Sports Direct said the true ratio from 2012 to 2015, had it paid out, would have been “closer to 9:1”.
The news comes as Sports Direct founder, chief executive and majority owner Mike Ashley this week upped the position his company has in Debenhams to above 11 per cent.
He also recently snapped up an 11 per cent stake in struggling fashion retailer French Connection and an agency that Sports Direct has a 25 per stake in, Four Holdings, recently acquired lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur.
Last week the tycoon said Sports Direct will appoint an employees’ representative who will attend board meetings following the uproar over working conditions the retailer faced last year.