Sports Direct delays results, guidance could be affected

Mike Ashley controls the sports retailer Sports Direct. (Bloomberg pic)

LONDON: British retailer Sports Direct has delayed publishing its annual results, blaming problems integrating its purchase of House of Fraser stores and increased scrutiny of its accounts, adding this could affect its financial forecasts.

“Sports Direct believes its accounts and their audit to be at an advanced stage,” it said on Monday.

The company, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, had been due to publish results on July 18, but said it now expected to release them between July 26 and Aug 23.

In December, Sports Direct had described trading as “unbelievably bad”.

The company’s core sporting goods stores have been relatively resilient performers in recent years, compared with a string of British retailers that have collapsed in the face of subdued consumer spending and a shift to shopping online.

But the group has also been engaged in a raft of high profile deals, battling and failing to buy department stores group Debenhams earlier this year after it bought House of Fraser out of administration in August 2018.

Its shares are down 38% in the last year.

Ashley, which owns 61% of Sports Direct, said in December there were significant challenges for House of Fraser, but there was a “fantastic opportunity” to revive the chain.

Sports Direct said on Monday it had also been affected by the fact that Britain’s accounting watchdog was reviewing the auditing of the company’s results.

It said that meant it had to compile more information than in previous years.

“Sports Direct would note that its core principles in regards to its financial statements are to be conservative, consistent and simple,” it said.