// One of Sports Direct’s retail chiefs steps down after 28 years
// Karen Byers was the person who “ran Sports Direct”, according to billionaire owner Mike Ashley
Sports Direct’s retail chief Karen Byers has announced her resignation with immediate effect after 28 years of serving under founder Mike Ashley.
Byers, who was one of the sportswear retailer’s retail chiefs, was referred to as the person who “runs Sports Direct” by Ashley himself.
She was also described as the “glue that holds it all together”.
Sports Direct’s senior store staff and area managers were informed of Byers’ decision to leave in a conference call on Monday morning, according to sources at the business.
Ashley told PA that Byers is welcome to take her job back if she were to change her mind.
“The focus of the business as we move forward remains our programme of brand elevation, one that we are totally committed to,” Ashley said.
“The door will always be open to Karen if she wishes to come back to the business as a consultant.”
Sports Direct anticipates that Byers’ departure is likely to have a significant impact on the business, with current and former staff calling her a “workaholic”.
Following Sports Direct’s listing on the stock market in 2007, Byers was paid a £5 million bonus.
A replacement has not yet been announced.