Shareholders in snub to Sports Direct chairman Keith Hallawell

Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell, left, and chief executive Dave Forsey at the company's annual general meeting in Shirebrook

INDEPENDENT shareholders have vented their anger at under-fire Sports Direct chairman Keith Hallawell, with 53 per cent voting against his reappointment.

The Mike Ashley-owned company said it was "disappointed" with the decision.

Mr Hellawell said: "I take this clear message from our independent shareholders seriously and I will do my best to address their concerns and earn their confidence over the next year.

"I have confirmed today that should I not receive the support of a majority of our independent shareholders at next year's AGM, I will step down at that time with immediate effect."

However, Mr Hellawell received the backing of over 81 per cent of all shareholders, which include Mr Ashley, who owns 55 per cent of the company.

Earlier in the day it was revealed that Mr Hellawell had offered to quit over the weekend, but stayed on after the board, including Mr Ashley, unanimously backed him to continue and assist in further improvements.

"I'm very proud to be chair of Sports Direct. I'm not a quitter. I thought from an integrity point of view it was right to offer my resignation because clearly there's a lot of negativity about me and my ability to run this company. As leader of an organisation, it's your duty when that comes under criticism to accept that and offer to stand down," Mr Hellawell added.

"It was heart-warming to get the response I got from the team and also I think the belief that I can help resolve some of those issues, help this company, help all of the people in this company... to do the things that are necessary... on the condition that if things to not improve then I will be judged by the independent directors next year."

Almost 21 per cent of shareholders voted for an independent review of working practices, despite the company's own review being published on Tuesday.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access