Mike Ashley to hand reins of Sports Direct retail empire to future son-in-law
The board of Frasers Group confirmed suspicions that CEO Mike Ashley will be replaced next year by his daughter’s fiancé, Michael Murray, in the group’s financial update.
31-year-old Murray is currently the firm’s “head of elevation” and has been in charge of modernise the owner of Sports Direct and House of Fraser, as well as taking it in a more upmarket direction.
The board said it was “appropriate” Murray lead the retail empire “on this increasingly successful elevation journey.”
Mike Ashley would remain on the board as an executive director after stepping down as chief executive.
Ashley has long been one of the high street’s most colourful characters. Since founding Sports Direct in 1982, he has snapped up a number of British brands, often in controversial circumstances.
Frasers Group now owns Evans Cycles, Game, Jack Wills, Flannels and House of Fraser, among others. Recently, Ashley launched a bid to take over the newly collapsed Debenhams, but the coup failed.
He also owns Newcastle FC, though he has been looking to offload the club in recent months.
The announcement of a change of leadership came in the Group’s financial update for the year to 25 April 2021.
Group revenue decreased by 8.4 per cent to £3.6bn from just under £4bn the previous year.
Sports retail revenues saw a decline of 10.7 per cent due mostly, the company said, to store closures caused by lockdowns. It added that this was offset by growth in online business and pent up demand on the reopening of stores.
The group declined to give a forecast for the next financial year, citing too much uncertainty of the effects of the pandemic. The board said they believe that the return of restrictions was likely: “there is a high risk of future Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, likely to be over this Winter and maybe beyond.
Shares in Frasers Group dropped by 13p, 2.12 per cent, to 601.9p in morning trading on Thursday.