The disgrace of Sports Direct

Photo credit: BBC

Photo credit: BBC

Like many other people I was disgusted at the latest news about Sports Direct.  The latest disgrace of Sports Direct concerns, yet again, the dreadful way it treats its staff.

The notoriety of Sports Direct and the dodgy Mike Ashley (founder) has recently come to light when he had to appear before a Commons Select Committee and be in the uncomfortable position of accounting for the latest scandal.

Latest reports concerning shabby practice with their workers in shops and their main warehouse.  Many workers are on zero hours contracts and often forced to work additional hours without pay.  This brings workers down below the national minimum wage, hence now being investigated by HMRC.  And quite right too.

At their warehouse workers are routinely searched after they have clocked off.  Queues form near the exit and this all takes time which is unpaid.  Other reports include examples of public humiliation of employees which include managers for not being committed if they work less than 55 hours, a woman who took sick leave because of period pains and was questioned about it in front of her colleagues.

Our own take on this

I’m afraid to say we have bought a few things from Sports Direct in the past.  We even got into a conversation with the sales assistant about the poor working conditions and how everything in the shop which is “reduced” is a complete con.  He explained they never sell things at their full price and yet claim to offer substantial discounts.  This was at least one or maybe two years ago at the Milton Keynes store.  We will do our very best to avoid them even more in the future.

Probably worth me saying something about the merchandise we have bought there, mainly sporty clothing for my youngest daughter and myself.  It is okay-ish to a point.  It does the job but nothing fancy and probably a case of you-pay-for-what-you-get.

And yet compare Sports Direct with Aldi.  Aldi seem to price things really well; clothing for cycling and running gear is pretty good.  So it goes to show that economical sports clothing isn’t all cheap tat, unless you buy it from Sports Direct.

To a certain extent, it is true to say the lower down the career ladder you are, the less favourable working conditions.  Now I know that’s a sweeping generalisation but there is some truth in it.  Manual workers often have to compete hard for a job and work extremely hard for modest wages.  The reasoning is they are numerous in number, employers know this and can often afford to pick and choose who they hire and at the same time dictate some horrible conditions.  A kind of “take it or leave it” approach.  How awful.

There are many companies who have good employee relations and manage to be profitable. Surely if you treat your staff well, they are more likely to work well, be committed and be loyal, taking a pride in what they do etc.  Perhaps that’s the reason why John Lewis, M&S and so on, always seem to do well and avoid getting hauled up before a Commons committee and be given a rough time.  Of course everyone knows that but it seems some think of their own greedy profits first.  Some companies do well at treating their staff well and here in the UK we have a few household names which do that, plus there must be many, many more smaller enterprises who have the right approach.

To sum up, we will be avoiding Sports Direct like the plague.


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2 Responses to The disgrace of Sports Direct

  1. velovoiceblogspot says:

    All very valid points, Doug. I too avoid Sports Direct – shocking behaviour.

    I’ll just flag up that John Lewis is employee-owned.

    • doug says:

      Ah yes I remember now about John Lewis being employee-owned, hence staff referring to each other as ‘partners’ which is quite correct. I think there’s a lot to be said for that type of ownership along with co-operatives etc.

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