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Sports Direct plans updates to USC and Cruise stores

RETAILER Sports Direct is to revamp the USC and Cruise stores it acquired in a tie-up with Ayrshire entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter earlier this year.

The news came as it emerged that Mike Ashley, Sports Direct's executive deputy chairman and majority shareholder, could be in line to receive a bonus of six million shares, worth around £12 million at current prices, if investors back a new proposal.

Mr Ashley, owner of Newcastle United football club, owns 71.2% of the company but receives no pay and is not a participant in the current executive scheme. "(This) is a situation the board wishes to remedy," Sports Direct said as it reported a 2% rise in underlying first-half earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation to £139.2m.

Sports Direct paid £7.5m for 80% shareholdings in fashion chains USC and Cruise in July.

Sports Direct said it has upgraded the two chains' IT and operating systems, brought in more branded goods and has proposed updated store lay-outs.

Cruise employs around 180 people in Scotland and USC some 380.

Sports Direct also said that, subject to shareholder approval at next September's general meeting, if the group's underlying EBITDA, before the costs of an employee bonus share scheme, for the year to March 2012 hits £225m, Mr Ashley will receive six million shares. They will vest in 2018 if two further earnings targets are met.

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