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JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars: Episode IX

JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars: Episode IX

Entertainment
JJ Abrams, who launched the new era of Star Wars films with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to the series as director of Star Wars: Episode IX.Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said "JJ delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for" in the earlier instalment, and she was excited he was returning to "close out this trilogy".Abrams replaces Colin Trevorrow, who dropped out of the film last month.Meanwhile the release has been delayed by six months, to December 2019.The announcement was made on Twitter by Walt Disney Studios, which owns Lucasfilm, on Friday.Chris Terrio will co-write the ninth instalment with Abrams. He won an Oscar for writing Argo in 2013 and his other scripts include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the forthcoming Justice League.Analysis - Lizo Mz...
Sports Direct 'abusive' as AGM vote looms

Sports Direct 'abusive' as AGM vote looms

Business
Sports Direct is facing battles on several fronts ahead of a crunch investor vote that could result in its under-fire chairman heading for the exit.Twenty four hours before shareholders vote on Keith Hellawell's future, dark clouds were gathering above its controversial Shirebrook warehouse amid opposition to his reappointment and new allegations relating to the retailer's treatment of staff.The Unite union claimed the company had reneged on a promise to offer workers on zero-hours contracts guaranteed hours - a pledge it had made following last year's storm over its treatment of workers amid claims of "Victorian" conditions.Image:The Sports Direct warehouse at Shirebrook was at the centre of the company's working practices scandal:: Sports Direct appoints first employee representativeUnit...
Own goal? Sports Direct annual profits dive 59%

Own goal? Sports Direct annual profits dive 59%

Business
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct has blamed "currency headwinds" for a big drop in underlying pre-tax profits in its last financial year.It reported trading earnings of £113.7m over the 12 months to 30 April - down 59% on the previous year - also hit by what it called "strategic challenges" in its operations on the continent.The retailer had previously accused the media of an "extreme campaign" against it, turning shoppers away amid outrage over controversial working practices at its warehouse.Chairman Keith Hellawell, who made that remark, insisted in the firm's results statement that the resulting changes it had made meant Sports Direct was a company of which "Britain can rightly feel very proud".Total sales grew by almost 12% to £3.2bn while UK Sports Retail revenue increased by 6.3% to £2.1