In the past few days, the pressure on Sports Direct has been tough for management and Mike Ashley.

The company stands accused of underpaying staff, poor ‘Victorian’ working conditions and now shareholders are revolting.

Sports Direct biggest accusation is underpaying employees by using agencies. Here I will compare it with rival sportswear retailer JD Sports.

Looking at the annual reports, Sports Direct appears to pay (on average) a higher wage than JD:


Source: Sports Direct + JD Sports annual reports (Created by writer.)

In 2016, Sports Direct paid an average salary, including bonuses of £18,818.93 compared to JD £14,080.49.

You know from experience that each company has a different work culture and staffs works at different hours from one another.

Therefore, JD provided a separate data on “full-time” equivalent staff numbers to tell investors how many workers it would hire if everyone work “full-time.”

And, currently, JD pays its full-time employee an average £21,265 per staff (including bonuses).

Unfortunately, Sports Direct didn’t provide this information.

Looking at an external site called, which allows people to input its wage based on where they work. For Sports Direct employees the average salary inputted were:

  1. Retail Sales Assistant is between £6,853 and £17,694;
  2. Retail Store Manager is between £18,368 and £37,538.

On the popular job search site, JD Sports advertised its pay for sales assistant is between £7,500 and £17,000.

And the salary of its store manager is between £10,000 and £32,000.

The big “?” mark in Sports Direct numbers

Before we apologise to Sports Direct for accusing of shoddy working conditions and pay, you should look at its revenue per employee data.


Source: Sports Direct + JD Sports annual reports (Created by writer.)

First, Sports Direct revenue per staff is £160,000 versus JD Sports £95,710.

Either Sports Direct staff is super productive, or it is selling items more expensive than JD Sports.

Both companies sell similar clothing range at similar prices (in some respect JD Sports selling goods at a slightly highly price).

However, Sports Direct did some findings into its working practices, it employed an extra 4,059 agency workers, with 18,280 staff directly employed by the firm giving a total of 22,339.


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