1. ITV Report

Sports Direct appoints first employee representative

Sports Direct Photo: PA

Sports Direct, which has been blighted by uproar over its working conditions, has elected an employee to attend board meetings.

The appointment of 30-year-old Alex Balacki, as the company's employee representative follows a tumultuous 2016 for the retailer which included its billionaire chief executive, Mike Ashley, being hauled before MPs to be grilled over "Victorian" working conditions.

The firm's warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, came under fierce criticism and the company hosted a farcical "open day" at its headquarters.

Chief executive Dave Forsey then quit the group, only to be replaced by Mr Ashley.

Mr Balacki is a Barnstaple store manager who has been with the company for 13 years. He will begin his 12-month role as an employee representative later this spring.

In a letter to staff, Mr Ashley said:

I'd like to be the first to congratulate Alex, who will help us to continue to make a positive difference by ensuring that your voice is heard in the boardroom.

I have said many times that this is a company that was built by the great people who work here. I am therefore delighted that the people at Sports Direct have voted to choose the company's first UK elected workers' representative.

– Sports Direct, Mike Ashley

Mr Balacki said he was "very proud" to have been picked by staff ahead of two rival candidates. He said:

It's now my role to ensure the people of Sports Direct are heard.

– Sports Direct, Alex Balacki