Sports Direct sets out £200m bonus plan for staff

Mike Ashley Mike Ashley established Sports Direct after leaving school in 1982

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Sports Direct, the sportswear retailer, has asked its shareholders to approve a new bonus scheme that will allow its founder, Mike Ashley, to receive a payout.

The plan will grant as many as 25 million shares, worth about £200m, to 3,000 employees, and will be the firm's third attempt to pay Mr Ashley.

To achieve the payout, Sports Direct's earnings would have to reach £480m at the end of the 2016 financial year.

That must rise to £750m by 2019.

Last year, the business posted annual underlying earnings of £287.9m.

Sports Direct International

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Sports Direct pulled a scheme to award Mr Ashley more than £70m in April after shareholders raised concerns that it was not in line with governance guidelines and did not include other company executives.

The business initially tried to hand Mr Ashley a bonus in September 2012, but again failed to win enough investor support.

Rapid growth

Mr Ashley, who is deputy executive chairman at the retailer, has not received a salary or bonus since the retailer floated in 2007. He owns 345.4 million shares, or about 58% of the company.

Part of the plan is to "reflect" Mr Ashley's contribution to the company since then, Sports Direct said. The company has grown in worth to almost £5bn from about £2bn since its float, it said.

The company did not disclose how much of the bonus package Mr Ashley could take. His allocation of the bonus scheme will be decided later by the firm's remuneration committee if the shareholders' meeting passes the plan.

Mr Ashley established Sports Direct after leaving school in 1982 and was the only owner until the group's sale of shares on the London stock market seven years ago.

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