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Sports Direct shares plummet over unpaid taxes and results shambles

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley leaving the Sports Direct headquarters in London on Friday. Photo: PA Media

Sports Direct (SPD.L) shares plummeted on Monday morning after its delayed results revealed a huge unpaid tax bill and problems in its House of Fraser takeover on Friday.

Shares were down 16% at 8.15am in London, after markets were left in the dark on Friday by the business’ highly unusual release of its results hours late and after the close of trading.

The company left investors rattled by repeatedly delaying the results, which were due to be released two weeks ago and then on Friday morning.

It revealed problems linked to its takeover of House of Fraser on Friday when its latest preliminary results were finally published.

The company reported a 6% decline in core earnings in the year to 28 April, as Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley said some House of Fraser stores “lose money on zero rent.”

It announced its chief finance officer Jon Kempster would step down in September after saying the purchase of the department store had made its results more complicated.

A line at the bottom of its statement also revealed Belgian authorities were seeking £605m from the company in unpaid taxes.

The company said its underlying earnings before tax were £287.8m for the year.

Excluding House of Fraser, its underlying earnings were up 10.9% to £339.4m, which fell within the company’s guidance issued in December.

Ashley also told investors on Friday night there would be more House of Fraser store closures.