Billionaire Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, is to step down as director of his expansive retail group, Frasers.
Mr Ashley, known as one of the most intriguing characters in British business, handed over the role of chief executive to his son in-law Michael Murray just months ago, after he impressed with the expansion of upmarket chain Flannels.
Mr Ashley, who founded Sports Direct in 1982, is by no means out of the picture though. He is still the group's controlling shareholder with a stake of nearly 70% and has agreed to lend the business £100m.
Starting out as a single sportswear shop, his retail empire now includes the likes of House of Fraser, Game, Jack Wills, and Evans Cycles.
The move does, however, mark a significant change of the guard and one which may bring major change to the business, of which Mr Ashley built the foundations for 40 years ago.
Born in Walsall, in the West Midlands, his family moved to Berkshire where his father, a warehouse manager, loaned his 17-year-old son the money to buy his first sportswear shop.
After establishing Sports Direct in 1982, he built his business by buying up well-known names such as Dunlop, Slazenger, outdoor gear specialist Karrimor, hat-maker Kangol and the boxing brand Lonsdale. It is now the UK's largest sportswear retailer, with more than 400 stores including the famous Lillywhites shop in London's Piccadilly.
Worth an estimated £4bn, he reportedly commutes by helicopter from his north London home, complete with tennis court and swimming pool.
He divorced his wife Linda in 2003, paying out a £50m settlement, and has not remarried. Marriage, he once joked, was one of the few things he couldn't afford. Together the couple have three children.
Observers have struggled to make sense of his retail game plan - not made easier by his less-than-warm relationship with the investment establishment.
His dealings with the City started badly. In 2007 he raised £929m when he sold a 45% stake in Sports Direct but in the following months the shares lost half their value, with many investors unhappy at the way the company was run.
Mr Ashley then called them "cry babies" in a Sunday Times interview, telling the paper: "Sports Direct should come with a government health warning - this stock is not for the fainthearted."
Nowadays, his sprawling empire includes several sportswear brands, as well as lingerie firm Agent Provocateur, luxury fashion chain Flannels - and major shareholdings in Debenhams and French Connection.
In 2018, he added House of Fraser to his retail portfolio, paying £90m to rescue the chain, saying he wanted to turn it into the "Harrods of the High Street", and later went on to save Evans Cycles from administration too.
With many bricks-and-mortar stores struggling due to a combination of rising rents and increasing online competition, Mr Ashley has also turned his attention to saving the country's high streets.
He said to support the High Street, there should be a tax on firms who generate 20% of revenues from the internet.
In the past, Sports Direct's reputation has been tarnished by scandals centring on working conditions at its Shirebrook distribution centre in Derbyshire. Mr Ashley has said he has "gone above and beyond" in order to "rebuild the reputation of Sports Direct in the City".
"These achievements have been widely recognised, and it has been acknowledged by a number of independent indexes that the reputation of Sports Direct has been significantly improved."
The firm had been accused of building its success by exploiting workers. In 2016 in a hearing before MPs, Mr Ashley admitted workers at its Derbyshire warehouse were paid below the minimum wage and that its policy of fining staff for being late was unacceptable.
His business habits have been the subject of a 2017 High Court battle over an alleged deal made after a boozy night at a pub near Sports Direct's Oxford Street store. Investment banker Jeffrey Blue claimed that Mr Ashley had agreed to pay him £15m if the firm's share price doubled to £8.
The court ruled in favour of Mr Ashley, saying nobody would have thought that his offer was serious.
However, the court hearing also provided other insights into how he does business. Mr Blue claimed that Mr Ashley had convened "senior management meetings" in a pub near Sports Direct's Derbyshire warehouse, and had once allegedly drunk 12 pints and vomited into the fireplace.
But Mr Ashley claimed that this was not a pub they usually attended and denied they were management meetings, with agendas and minutes. "It is very boring and lonely in Shirebrook," Mr Ashley said. "You know what we do after work? We go to the pub after work."
Then there is that expensive game of spoof. Mr Ashley said he once played the game of chance with an investment banker to settle a £750,000 dispute over legal fees connected with Sports Direct's flotation.
"I had the opportunity to save Sports Direct £750,000!" he said. "I either had to pay or I could spoof for it."
He lost and had to pay up, but remained unbowed. "Yes the City may laugh at me for the next 15 years, but yes - I would do it again in the morning!" he said.
He is also a man who is not good with mobile phones. "I periodically lose my phone, destroy my phone, damage my phone... Whatever happens to phones happens to my phone," he has said. And whenever one phone is out of action, he asks Sports Direct to give him another one. At one time he had a box of 50 of them in his office.
Mr Ashley's former ownership of Newcastle United was also not without drama.
Mike Ashley purchased the club in 2007 for £134m, and they were relegated in 2009 and 2016.
It was never entirely clear why Mr Ashley bought the club, as he had no previous connection with the team or the area. But in the early days, he would sit and cheer among the ordinary travelling Newcastle fans in his black-and-white shirt.
He first put the club up for sale in September 2008 amid a series of protests from fans following the resignation of popular manager Kevin Keegan.
Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League that season and again in 2015-16, although returned to the top flight at the first opportunity both times by winning the Championship.
He later put the club up for sale again and a £305m takeover backed by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund completed in 2021, despite protests from human rights organisations.
Mike Ashley told the News of the World previously that he bought the club "to have fun", attracted by the gung-ho, take-no-prisoners attacking style that the team adopted under Kevin Keegan in the mid-1990s.
Perhaps it's not a bad analogy for the way Mr Ashley runs his business.
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- Sports Direct
- House of Fraser
- Mike Ashley
- Business of Sport
Is Sports Direct still owned by Mike Ashley? ›
Mike Ashley founded his Sports Direct retail empire four decades ago. But Ashley has remained closely involved in the firm's management and is still the group's controlling shareholder with a majority stake.What is Mike Ashley's company called? ›
Mr Ashley, who founded Sports Direct in 1982, is by no means out of the picture though. He is still the group's controlling shareholder with a stake of nearly 70% and has agreed to lend the business £100m.What companies do Mike Ashley own? ›
Mr Ashley has also purchased a number of brands such as Slazenger, Karrimor, Lonsdale, Kangol and Everlast, which are sold in Sports Direct stores. Frasers Group Plc replaced the name Sports Direct as the overarching parent firm, and vehicle he uses to buy more businesses.When was Sports Direct founded? › What questions do Sports Direct ask in an interview? ›
- Elaborate on CV experience. Commute time. Flexibility. ...
- what skills do you have? what made you want to work here? Shared on 13 November 2022 - Sales Assistant - Cheshunt.
- What jobs I had done previously. Shared on 11 November 2022 - summer temp.
Michael Ashley is the founder of the United Kingdom's largest sporting goods retailer Sports Direct. He also served as COO of Frasers Group PLC until 2022. Ashley earned $1.8 billion from the 2007 Initial Public Offering of Sports Direct. He bought the U.K. soccer club Newcastle United in 2007.What is Mike Ashley's net worth? › When did Sports Direct change its name? ›
The retailer is also currently undergoing a store rationalisation programme in the UK, closing smaller stores and relocating to larger flagships, which will see the total number of stores decrease but selling space increase. In November 2019, Sports Direct announced it will rebrand to Frasers Group.Why is Sports Direct successful? ›
Sports Direct has seen soaring sales growth despite its reputation for a poor shopping experience. Sports Direct's stores are nothing if not distinctive. Cramming sporting kit next to jeans, cheap merchandise and even handbags, the retailer has made a brand out of its “pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap” strategy.How many stores does Sports Direct have? ›
|Characteristic||Number of stores|
How many Sports Direct employees are there? ›Who is Sports Direct owned by? › How much did Mike Ashley pay for Missguided? ›
Mike Ashley's Frasers Group buys fashion retailer Missguided out of administration for £20 million | ITV News Granada.What was the share price of Sports Direct in 2007? ›
The company listed its shares on the stock exchange in 2007, with shares priced at 300p. Prices surged to more than 900p in early 2014.Is Sports Direct a good company to work for? ›
Terrible management , exhausting environment
-Treating staff very unfairly. -Always give you little working hours and suddenly text you to work. -6 hours work and you only got 20 mins break, 8 hours got 30 mins break and 10 hours got an hour break.
Frasers Group, a large UK-based retailer that owns various luxury, premium lifestyle, and sporting goods brands (e.g., Sports Direct), generated a gross profit of just over two billion British pounds in its financial year of 2022.How many countries is Sports Direct in? ›
Until now Sports Direct's biggest overseas market has been Belgium, where it owns 46 stores. The company will now operate in 16 countries, including Portugal, France and Slovenia.What are 3 strong interview questions you may ask at an interview? ›
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why do you want this job?
- Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
- What's your ideal company?
- What attracted you to this company?
- Why should we hire you?
Questions to avoid in an interview:
Never ask about pay, time off, benefits, etc. (Wait until later in the process to inquire about these things.) Never ask “What does your company do?” • Never ask “If I'm hired, when can I start applying for other positions in the company?” • Never ask how quickly you can be promoted.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Walk me through your resume.
- How did you hear about this position?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- What can you bring to the company?
- What are your greatest strengths?
Did Mike Ashley make a profit from Newcastle? ›
Ashley therefore made a profit of roughly £60m (having paid c£140m in 2007). And who could begrudge him that given the phenomenal success over his tenure!How much did Mike Ashley pay for Newcastle Football Club? ›
Buying clubs and pints
Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United in May 2007 from Freddy Shepherd and Sir John Hall for £134m. He did no due diligence on the club and was unaware it was £100m in debt. It was a surprise move at the time, with the retail tycoon branching out into the world of football club ownership.
While the decision seemed harsh, most of the fellow competitors agreed with her. In her career on The Challenge, she has won $1,121,250. On top of the winnings, MTV pays participants.Who is Mike Ashley's wife? › Who is the owner of New Castle? ›
Newcastle United F.C.What font is Sports Direct? ›
Jones says that only one typeface was chosen for the new look – GT America – which combines “the history of high impact, page-filling, sporty American gothics with functional and accessible European Neo-Grotesques”.What are Sports Direct aims? ›
We aspire to be a leading sports and lifestyle retailer internationally and to deliver sustainable growth for our shareholders in the medium to long term by offering our customers an unrivalled range of high quality leading brands.Does Sports Direct have real brands? ›
Sports Direct actually owns a lot of sporting brands – including Slazenger, Donnay, Everlast, Dunlop and Karrimor – so they can slap those logos on anything they like.What are the top 4 advantages of direct marketing? ›
- Measurable & Trackable. ...
- Increased Communications & Customer Relationships. ...
- Targets Specific Markets. ...
- Helps Identify Prospects.
Which are the main benefits of direct marketing? ›
A successful direct marketing program will: enable you to reach target individuals in an efficient way. help you to personalise and customise your messages. attract new customers and increase their value to your business over time.What are the benefits of the direct selling model? ›
Consumers benefit from direct selling because of the convenience and service it provides, including personal demonstration and explanation of products, home delivery, and generous satisfaction guarantees.How old do you have to be to work in Sports Direct? ›
Do you hire 15 year olds? No they don't, minimum 16.Who is the largest sporting goods retailer? ›
|4||Dick's Sporting Goods||USA|
To return your item(s) bought in store for a credit note or where possible make an exchange, visit any SportsDirect store within 28 days of purchase. If your item is faulty, we will provide a full refund. Please provide a valid proof of purchase.Do Sports Direct staff get commission? ›
Sports Direct offers a revolutionary commission scheme across all stores and their teams.How do Sports Direct treat employees? ›
Workers at Sports Direct were not being paid the national minimum wage, and were being penalised for matters such as taking a short break to drink water and for taking time off work when ill. Some say they were promised permanent contracts in exchange for sexual favours.Does Sports Direct provide training for employees? ›
The Sports Direct Management Induction is residential and lasts for 10 days and consists of a mixture of shop floor based training and classroom centred activities.What happened to Sports Direct? ›
Ashley launched Sports Direct in 1982, later changing its name to Frasers Group after buying the House of Frasers department store in 2018. It has since gone on to snap up a raft of retail high street brands, including Game, Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Flannels.Why has Missguided collapsed? ›
Teneo Financial Advisory were appointed to sell its business and assets with supply chain costs, rising inflation and 'softening' consumer confidence said to be the leading causes behind the company's collapse. It is understood dozens of staff have now lost their jobs.
Is Missguided losing money? ›
By 2018, Missguided produced a loss of approximately 45 million British pounds. In 2019 this value dropped to a loss of 3.62 million, but increased again to 5.2 million British pounds. Missguided went into administration into 2022, before being bought by Frasers Group.What brands are owned by Mike Ashley? ›
Starting out as a single sportswear shop, his retail empire now includes the likes of House of Fraser, Game, Jack Wills, and Evans Cycles. The move does, however, mark a significant change of the guard and one which may bring major change to the business, of which Mr Ashley built the foundations for 40 years ago.Are old stock shares worth anything? ›
An old stock or bond certificate may still be valuable even if it no longer trades under the name printed on the certificate. The company may have merged with another company or simply changed its name.How do I find out if old shares are worth anything? ›
“It will cost you a small fee but, if there is money to be made from them, a stockbroker should help,” it says. Another way to check on a share certificate's validity is to contact the company registrars whose name should be written on the certificate. Companies use registrars to keep a record of who owns their shares.How do I find the value of old stock shares? ›
Your local library may have print and online sources that will help you find out, in what form, and if its stock still has value. You can do a quick check on free stock market quote services, such as: Big Charts. Over the Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB)How did Mike Ashley get so rich? ›
Michael Ashley is the founder of the United Kingdom's largest sporting goods retailer Sports Direct. He also served as COO of Frasers Group PLC until 2022. Ashley earned $1.8 billion from the 2007 Initial Public Offering of Sports Direct. He bought the U.K. soccer club Newcastle United in 2007.Who is Michael Murray? ›
Michael Murray is Chief Executive of Frasers Group; he will accelerate the group's strategy to achieve its vision: “to serve our customers with the world's best sports, premium and luxury brands.”Did Mike Ashley make a profit on Newcastle? ›
Ashley therefore made a profit of roughly £60m (having paid c£140m in 2007). And who could begrudge him that given the phenomenal success over his tenure! Over the last ten years, whilst other owners have been pumping eye-watering amounts of money into their clubs, Ashley has taken £29m out of NUFC in loan repayments.Which football club is Mike Ashley trying to buy? ›
Mike Ashley preparing £50m takeover bid to buy Derby County | Football News | Sky Sports.How much are the Ashley twins worth? ›
The world's best American Fashion designers the Olsen Twins (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) have a net worth of $550 Million. According to various online resources (Wikipedia, Forbes, IMDB), the most popular American Fashion Designer (The Olsen Twins) estimated net worth is around $550 Million.
How much did Mike Ashley buy and sell Newcastle for? ›
Mike Ashley has broken his silence after the sale of Newcastle to a Saudi-led group was completed on Thursday. The Sports Direct kingpin sold the Premier League club to the Saudi Public Investment Fund in a £305million deal. Ashley was hated by the club's fanbase and had been desperate to get him out of the club.What's Chad Michael Murray doing now? ›
Chad Michael Murray
Before the show, Chad had established himself as a TV actor with roles on Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls, but One Tree Hill was arguably the role that catapulted him to fame. Nowadays, Chad continues to appear in films and TV shows such as Riverdale, Star and Scream Queens.
He has one brother, NCIS: Los Angeles producer Chad W. Murray, and seven stepsiblings, including Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario and JAG actor Michael Bellisario.Is Newcastle now the richest club? ›
Newcastle United are today considered the richest club in world football, a label that's an extension of the deep pockets of the club's ownership group which on paper has the capacity to outspend other teams.How much money did Mike Ashley spend at Newcastle? ›
Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United in May 2007 from Freddy Shepherd and Sir John Hall for £134m. He did no due diligence on the club and was unaware it was £100m in debt. It was a surprise move at the time, with the retail tycoon branching out into the world of football club ownership.How much did Mike Ashley spent on transfers at Newcastle? ›
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