The UK retail sector has witnessed its share of controversy over the years. Disputes over working conditions, health and safety, sustainability, and the impact of certain working practices on local communities have all been cited at various points. 

But there are several instances of controversy which stand apart from the crowd. Here, we’ll examine three of the most notorious in recent years.


Sports Direct 

Sports Direct has made headlines in recent memory due to a number of claims. Back in 2016, the company boss, Mike Ashley, appeared in court to defend his business against the various claims and controversies Sports Direct has faced in the past decade; and ended with a £750,000 settlement legal bill. One of the main points made in this court case was that Sports Direct had grown too fast and became too big for him to manage as effectively as he would’ve liked.

Under UK law, all workers are entitled to a safe working environment. All employers, by the same token, are duty-bound to provide that environment. 

When working in an environment where physical and or mental health is neglected, whether, in retail or elsewhere, it’s important to remember that a no-win, no-fee solicitor can be invaluable.

ASOS Warehouse fire

In June 2014, the Asos warehouse in Barnsley was swept up in a fire, which damaged around a fifth of the onsite stock. As you might imagine, this put a significant dampener on the company’s overall sales for the summer. Asos would later announce that it had lost around £30 million in sales.

Of course, whenever large amounts of valuable assets are stored in a single place, there’s always a risk that they might be destroyed or damaged at the same time. This risk can be offset with the help of business insurance, and legal action after the fact.

More recently, the Times wrote a piece about going undercover while working in one of their warehouses and made a number of claims which have tainted the reputation of the company; which is publicly traded on the London stock exchange – thus very susceptible to public opinion.  

The newspaper employed an undercover reporter to work as a picker, with fellow staff members claiming a number of wrongdoings, all of which have prompted to take legal action to set the record straight. So far, it’s unclear which way the justice system will go given the size and complexity of the case but it is a noteworthy example nonetheless.