Sports Direct calls executive pay report 'fake news'
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct has criticised a shareholder lobby group, accusing it of "fake news" for claims regarding its executive pay ratios.
It says a PIRC (Pensions & Investment Research Consultants) report wrongly states the firm has a chief executive-to-average-employee pay ratio of 400:1.
Such a ratio would be the second highest in the FTSE 350.
But the retailer says the PIRC figures include a bonus that was never paid, and a "true ratio" would be about 9:1.
PIRC said it would not be commenting on Sports Direct's statement.
Sports Direct says that the data sets used in the study were "incorrect", and included a bonus entitlement which was accrued by former chief executive Dave Forsey, but was never collected.
"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 the firm 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."
The data was originally published in City AM, a free city newspaper for workers in the City of London.
Over the past year Sports Direct has faced a barrage of criticism over its financial performance, corporate governance and conditions for workers at its warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
A report by the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee said employees of the company were "not treated as humans".
Since then, the company has promised an independent inquiry and to undertake significant reforms, including offering compensation to workers who had been underpaid.
Several senior employees have left the company. Mr Forsey stepped down as chief executive and was replaced by Mr Ashley. Veteran banker David Brayshaw was recruited as an independent director.
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