Mike Ashley has concluded his appearance before the Commons Business Select Committee relieved that no-one mentioned all the young children he has working in his warehouses.
The sometimes fractious meeting ended amicably and to the relief of the Sports Direct boss who was concerned the public might take a dim view of him using children to pick Internet orders in his dark and cold warehouses.
Ashley told sources inside the business, “The MPs seemed far more interested in talking about security bottlenecks and our use of staff agencies than all those child labourers, which was obviously fine by me.
“I mean, I was happy to explain that children make sense in warehouses with racking, because they’re so light they can climb up and down then without the need of a forklift, saving precious time in getting the orders completed.
“Plus all those nimble fingers for picking up the tat I sell, they’re just great at it.
“And I only pay them pennies, literally. Big chocolate ones.”
Ashley took offence during the hearing to the characterisation by one MP of his Sports Direct warehouses as sweatshops.
He told the committee, “I take great offence at the term ‘sweatshop’, because these warehouses are mostly freezing. Heating costs money.
“If anything, I think they’re more of a ‘chillshed’.”