Sports Direct was in a bad light last night when a drastic revision of the company's management was overshadowed by a clear U-turn in a plan to buy Debenhams.
Just before yesterday's annual general meeting, founder and chief executive Mike Ashley announced the resignation of his intimate ally Keith Hellawell, who has been president of the firm for almost a decade.
Simon Bentley, the senior independent director, also resigned, while William Hill manager Nicola Frampton was appointed as the first female board member of Sports Direct.
Problems at the top: Mike Ashley had to deny that Sports Direct was considering a takeover of Debenhams
The shake-up was sufficient to prevent a major uprising of shareholders from taking place at the AGM in London, although nearly 10 percent were opposed to Ashley's reappointment as a director. The 54-year-old had to deny that Sports Direct was considering a takeover of Debenhams after buying House of Fraser for £ 90 million. It owns 29.7 percent of Debenhams and speculation is widespread that it will provide for the entire company.
Bentley (62), said that the merging House of Fraser and Debenhams were discussed by the board & # 39; & # 39; but that he came back later. "If someone of yours had the job of treating House of Fraser now, then I think you might have your hands full, and we also have Sports Direct," he said.
Later, Sports Direct issued a formal statement stating that it is not the intention to make an offer & # 39; for Debenhams. The chaos is the latest headache for investors in Ashley and Sports Direct.
Analysts were largely cynical about Ashley's attempt at House of Fraser's Harrods of the High Street & # 39; to make. It acquired the retailer in a controversial pre-pack administration agreement, which means that it is not mandatory to pay its debts to suppliers that owe hundreds of millions.
However, analysts at investment bank Liberum said that the acquisition of House of Fraser could be a smart move.
Hellawell, 76, would have resigned in order to prevent an uprising of investors after Glass Lewis had called on shareholders to vote against his and Ashley's reappointment.
A former chief commander of the police and drugssentar, Hellawell was criticized for his leadership style and last year he survived a re-election. He came under fire in 2016 by working methods in the Sports Direct store in Derbyshire, described as "Victorian".
The current director David Daly has been appointed as the new chairman.
Ashley Hamilton Claxton, at Royal London Asset Management, said: "We hope that the introduction of powerful management measures will have the highest priority.
& # 39; This includes improving the working relationship with independent shareholders and addressing concerns about working conditions and contracts. & # 39;
Supporter of fashion: Keith Hellawell was appointed Chief Police Officer of West Yorkshire in 1993
EX DRUGS TSAR FALLS ON HIS SWORD
Leave Knight Rider. When Keith Hellawell was appointed Chief of Police in West Yorkshire in 1993, he would be working in a black Porsche and black leather jacket.
In his last day as president of Sports Direct, after a period like Tony Blair's £ 103,000-a-year drug toll, he looked less self-assured because he was besieging himself because of the dicey corporate governance and gaming practices of the retailer,.
Although there was no doubt about his pedigree as a policeman, what he has qualified as chairman of a listed company remains a mystery.