Ashley accounts reveal hit from Newcastle Utd and Sports Direct woes | Business News
Accounts filed by retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s personal investment firm have revealed a big hit to profits in the year Sports Direct faced outrage over working conditions.
The numbers, lodged with Companies House, showed damage to earnings at Mash Holdings from troubles at the retail chain and Newcastle United – the football club he is currently trying to sell.
For the year to 30 April 2017, Mash reported a 63% drop in pre-tax profits to £102.5m despite revenues rising 10% to £3.3bn.
Mr Ashley, via Mash, holds a majority stake in Sports Direct.
The retailer is also listed on the London Stock Exchange so Sports Direct’s own financial position for the time period had already been revealed to the City.
It was in the aftermath of the referendum result when the pound’s value crashed that the chain revealed it was not hedged against the negative currency movement which drove up the cost of importing stock.
Furthermore, sales were described as flat.
Sports Direct’s-then chairman Keith Hellawell was to later blame the tough trading on media coverage of the chain’s battle with MPs and unions over pay and allegations of “Victorian” working practices.
Sports Direct investors rebelled over the high street group’s corporate governance standards.
The Mash accounts also showed a leap in costs for the tycoon at the football club over the 12-month period.
Revenue fell 30% to just shy of £92m as media and commercial income fell during a season which saw Newcastle United playing in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League.
Operating expenses were up by £44.3m to £140.8m.
The Mash filing showed profits were also hit by falls in the value of Sports Direct properties.
There were details too on the tycoon’s lifestyle including £700,000 being spent on the use of the company jet and helicopter.
He received no pay during the period.
His fortunes have since recovered to the extent the political and investor backlash against Sports Direct has eased while the football club is currently in the Premier League – albeit battling against relegation.
Mr Ashley told Sky News in an exclusive interview in December he hoped for an imminent sale of the club.
At the same time he has placed himself as a champion of the struggling high street – using a parliamentary hearing to demand greater government support.
He bought House of Fraser and Evans Cycles out of administration in 2018 and eyed further acquisitions including HMV and Patisserie Valerie amid his ambition to turn House of Fraser into the “Harrods of the high street”.