Sports Direct staff 'are sitting on shares worth more than £50,000'

Sports Direct has hailed its share bonus scheme an "absolute game changer", as it confirmed that thousands of staff are sitting on shares worth more than £50,000.

The sportswear market leader, controlled by its deputy executive chairman Mike Ashley, who owns Newcastle United football club, delivered a 12 per cent leap in underlying profits to £235.7m for the year to 29 April.

This was the third year running it had smashed earnings targets set under its share bonus scheme for staff that started in 2009.

Under the first part of the scheme, 2000 staff will be able to cash in 5000 shares worth nearly £15,000 in August.

In addition, employees have also been handed 12,000 shares, valued at just under £36,000, based on yesterday's share price of 295p.

Dave Forsey, chief executive, said: "I think it has been an absolute game changer since it was introduced," referring to the scheme's impact on staff retention and service in stores.