BOSSES at Hyndburn-based Findel are recommending that a takeover by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley should be rejected.

The Newcastle United chairman raised his stake in Findel, which oversees Express Gifts, now trading as, earlier this week. This deal, which saw their shareholding increase from 29.9 per cent to 36.8 per cent, triggered a mandatory offer by Mr Ashley and Sports Direct for the group, which employs hundreds at its Church headquarters.

But the posted offer, of 161 pence per share, has been dismissed by Findel’s board, ahead of a formal recommendation to shareholders, as it is said to “undervalue” the company.

Sports Direct, which has been an investor in Findel since September 2015 and is now the single largest shareholder, believed the offer was a fair price for the remaining holdings.

In a Stock Market statement, Sports Direct said: "Following successful pilot-scale commercial tests of Sports Direct-licensed clothing brands on Express Gifts' website, designed to strengthen Express Gifts' product offer for the value-conscious customer, Sports Direct and Findel have further developed the commercial supply arrangements between Express Gifts and Sports Direct.

"Sports Direct continues to recognise the value and quality of the Findel business, and sees the offer as an opportunity to give increased support to Findel to maximise the value of its existing business.

"The offer is as an effective way of expanding the commercial arrangements between Sports Direct and Findel, and giving Sports Direct increased exposure to the future growth of the Findel business."

However the announcement has been countermanded by Findel.

Their statement added: “The board believes that the mandatory offer significantly undervalues the group and its future prospects and is unanimous in its rejection of the offer of 161 pence per share and recommends that shareholders should take no action at this time.

"The board will be writing to shareholders with its formal response to the offer once the offer document has been posted.”

Last year Findel reported revenues of £479 million and a pre-tax profit of £22.1m.