Sports Direct looking for Mike Ashley to replace Debenhams Board

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National high street retailer Sports Direct has announced that they would like to see the removal of the board at Debenhams, and appoint their boss Mike Ashley to run the department store giant.

The Sports Direct owner already has a 30% stake in the struggling business, which earlier this week announced profit warnings and how it might affect their 165 stores and 25,000 UK staff.

A statement by Sports Direct read: “Sports Direct has today requisitioned a general meeting of Debenhams plc (Debenhams) to appoint Mr Mike Ashley to the board of directors of Debenhams and to remove all of the current members of the Debenhams board (other than Rachel Osborne who became a director in September 2018).

If Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of directors of Debenhams during this business critical period for Debenhams, Mr Ashley would carry out an executive role, and would focus on the Debenhams business, including building a strong board and management team.  If appointed, Mr Ashley would step down from his current roles as a director and chief executive of Sports Direct.  He would be replaced as acting chief executive by Chris Wootton, currently Sports Direct’s deputy chief financial officer.

Sports Direct wishes to reassure its shareholders that, if Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of Debenhams and step down from his roles at Sports Direct, Sports Direct and Mr Ashley have every confidence that acting chief executive Mr Wootton and the other members of Sports Direct’s board and management team have the necessary expertise to continue to successfully run the Sports Direct business.”

Debenhams replied to the announcement with the following statement: “The board of Debenhams received notice from Sports Direct last night requisitioning a general meeting of shareholders to propose the appointment of Mr Mike Ashley to the board of directors of Debenhams and the removal of all of the current members of the Debenhams board (other than Rachel Osborne). Any shareholder holding more than 5% of the issued share capital has the right to call a shareholder meeting.

“The board has been engaging with Sports Direct and our other stakeholders regarding options to restructure our balance sheet and is disappointed that Sports Direct has taken this action. In the meantime, discussions to address our future funding requirements are well advanced.”

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