Sports Direct has requested a general meeting of the Debenhams department store chain in a bid to remove all current members of the retailer’s board except for Rachel Osborne. Sports Direct is also looking to have chief executive Mike Ashley appointed to the Debenhams board.

With Sports Direct holding a 30% stake in Debenhams, the company said that if the move was successful, Ashley would carry out an executive role focusing on the Debenhams business and would stand down as a director and chief executive of Sports Direct. In addition, Chris Wootton, the company’s deputy chief financial officer, would become Sports Direct’s acting chief executive.

In a statement Sports Direct said: “Sports Direct wishes to reassure its shareholders that, if Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of Debenhams and step down from his roles at Sports Direct, Sports Direct and Mr Ashley have every confidence that acting chief executive Mr Wootton and the other members of Sports Direct's board and management team have the necessary expertise to continue to successfully run the Sports Direct business.”

Debenhams issued a profit warning earlier this week after struggling against a 5.3% fall in like-for like sales in the 26 weeks to 2 March.