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RPC loses Sports Direct mandate after embattled retailer bows to shareholder pressure


RPC has lost its mandate to review Sports Direct’s governance in the fallout from the retailer’s shareholder meeting earlier this month.

Sports Direct said it would run a ‘360-degree’ review of working practices and corporate governance, but the review, which was originally to be led by RPC, will now be led by another independent party.

The LB100 firm was announced as the leader on the 12-month review on 6 September, but now loses the mandate for its long-term client.

RPC had originally led the report into long-term client Sports Direct’s working practices. The report found the retail giant had ‘serious shortcomings’ in its working practices and called for a suspension of the firm’s zero-hours contracts and an end to a ‘six strikes and you are out’ punitive policy.

Sports Direct’s working practices were subject to intense scrutiny following an investigation by the Guardian last December and a subsequent inquiry by MPs.

Shareholders in Sports Direct had called on the company to conduct an independent review at its investor forum.

A statement from Sports Direct said: ‘The board will continue constructive dialogue with the company’s independent shareholders in order to reach agreement regarding the specific nature and timing of the review.

‘RPC will continue to be a valued legal adviser to Sports Direct, and the board would like to thank RPC for its work on the existing working practices report, which was compiled to the highest standards.’

RPC has previously worked with Sports Direct and company founder Mike Ashley, with the firm’s competition practice has advised the board on a number of acquisitions.

IP partner Paul Joseph has worked with Sports Direct on trade mark infringement, while RPC corporate partner Karen Hendy advised on the retailer’s acquisition of stricken high-street chain Republic in 2013.

RPC refused to comment at the time of publication.