A day at ‘the gulag’: what it’s like to work at Sports Direct’s warehouse

Guardian undercover reporters explore retailer’s working practices – from losing wages for being a minute late to body searches and constant fear of being sacked

It may be 5.30am and pitch-black on the outskirts of Shirebrook, Derbyshire – but the roads are busy. A stream of cars, typically packed with eastern Europeans, wind their way along country lanes and deliver about 1,500 people to a massive facility surrounded by farmland.

After stopping in an overflow car park, most shuffle silently across the road and into an illuminated 800,000sq ft structure that seems to emerge out of the darkness like a visitation in some bad science fiction film.

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Revealed: how Sports Direct effectively pays below minimum wage

Guardian undercover reporters find world where staff are searched daily, harangued via tannoy to hit targets and can be sacked in a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ regime

Temporary workers at Sports Direct, the booming retail chain controlled by the billionaire Mike Ashley, are receiving effective hourly rates of pay below the minimum wage, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.

Warehouse staff at the group, which is controlled by Britain’s 22nd richest man, are required to go through searches at the end of each shift, for which their time is unpaid, while they also suffer harsh deductions from their wage packets for clocking in for a shift just one minute late.

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Mike Ashley looks forward to Sports Direct’s busy fixture list

Relegation struggles, court cases, zero-hours contracts: it’s a wonder the Newcastle owner doesn’t need extra time

There’s never a dull moment in the world of Mike Ashley. The billionaire founder of Sports Direct, which reports half-year results on Thursday, is fighting battles on multiple fronts.

His football club, Newcastle United, is in yet another relegation scrap in the Premier League and Ashley is taking the Scottish Football Association to court over his dispute with Rangers, in which he owns a stake. Other problems include the charging of Sports Direct’s chief executive, David Forsey, with a criminal offence over the collapse of its fashion chain, USC, and unions continuing to target Sports Direct’s use of zero-hours contracts.

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Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley under fire after employment tribunal

Law firm representing former USC workers, who were given 15 minutes notice that their Ayshire warehouse would close, blasts ‘disgraceful’ practices

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has been criticised for “disgraceful and unlawful employment practices” after 50 former employees of its USC business were awarded compensation.

The workers were awarded a “protective award”, equivalent to 90 days pay, after Glasgow’s employment tribunal heard that USC workers had been given just 15 minutes notice that the company’s warehouse in Dundonald, Ayrshire would close. Under employment law, workers should be given at least 30 days consultation before losing their jobs.

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Sports Direct takes up 19% stake in online specialist Findel

Kitbag owner’s share price rises 13% amid speculation that Mike Ashley may start a bidding war for the football strip retailer

Sports Direct has snapped up a 19% stake in Findel, the online specialist and the owner of the Kitbag replica football strip retailer.

Shares in Findel, which also runs gift catalogues and an educational supplies business, soared 13% to 228p on speculation that Mike Ashley, the Sports Direct executive deputy chairman, would buy the group or there could be a bidding war for Kitbag.

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Sports Direct denies ‘Dickensian practices’ in face of investor revolt

Company defends treatment of its workers after more than half of shareholders voting at AGM spurn pay policy

Sports Direct has insisted it is “not operating Dickensian practices”, in the face of growing shareholder unrest at Mike Ashley’s sportswear retailer.

The company, which has gained notoriety for keeping 20,000 staff on zero-hours contracts and making Ashley a billionaire, robustly defended its treatment of workers at its annual shareholder meeting after strong criticism from activist investor groups.

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Sports Direct’s board under pressure as City investors lose faith

Royal London Asset Management will vote against re-election of Sports Direct’s executive deputy chairman Mike Ashley and its non-executive directors

A major City investment firm is to vote against the re-election of Sports Direct’s non-executive directors and executive deputy chairman Mike Ashley after losing confidence in the retailer’s board.

Ashley Hamilton Claxton, corporate governance manager at Royal London Asset Management, which owns about £8.3m of Sports Direct shares, said: “We have lost confidence in the board and are very concerned about the long list of corporate governance failings that have not been addressed,” ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

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Shareholder group issues ‘red alert’ warning on Sports Direct bonuses

Investment Management Association signals corporate governance concerns over changes to Mike Ashley-owned retailer’s multimillion-pound scheme

One of the City’s most influential shareholder groups has issued a warning about planned changes to a multimillion-pound bonus scheme at Sports Direct, the retail chain run by Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United football club.

The Investment Management Association (IMA) issued its “red top” alert – its most serious warning signal about corporate governance breaches – ahead of the retailer’s annual shareholder meeting next week because of concerns over pay.

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Sports Direct to hand managers total of £155m in bonuses

Around 2,000 managers to gain average £77,000 in staggered payout after beating targets but vast majority of 27,000 staff gain nothing

Sports Direct, the booming high street chain controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, is to hand 2,000 managers and other permanent staff share bonuses worth almost £155m.

The majority of the group’s 27,000 staff are agency workers, however, and will not be eligible for the bonus. Of these, some 15,000 are thought to be British staff on zero-hours contracts, meaning Sports Direct can decide how much work to offer them and when. Many earn the minimum wage.

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