Sports Direct majority shareholder Mike Ashley has hit back at City critics branding unsupportive investors a ‘bunch of cry babies’.

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The sports retailer, which owns brands such as Slazenger and Dunlop, lost almost a quarter of its value in a single day last week after a profit warning following the wettest June on record. In his first major interview, Ashley, who still owns a 57% stake in the company that floated five months ago, told The Sunday Times: “I’ve got balls of steel. Some investors have been great and have been very supportive. But some of these City people act like a bunch of cry babies.

“You meet a lot of incredibly smart people in the City who seem to be obsessively focused on a share price at that minute,” said Ashley. He said that in the long term he would rebuild the share price and create value for loyal investors. He hopes to turn Sports Direct into a £4 billion business over the long term. “We didn’t hide anything. We don’t think the share price is a reflection of the company’s prospects,” said Ashley.