Mike Ashley to step down as CEO of Sports Direct

Mike Ashley to step down as CEO of Sports Direct

Mike Ashley to quit Frasers Chief CFO role but keep it for the family.

LONDON - Mike Ashley, one of the UK's most outspoken business leaders, is set to step down as CEO of the sportwear retail group that was founded nearly 40 years ago, giving up the role to the partner of his daughter.

Frasers Group, originally to be called Sports Direct, said that its board was in talks with regards to moving from Ashley to Michael Murray, the Group's current head of elevation, over the course of 2021-22 financial year.

It was also suggested that Michael Murray will assume CEO role on 1 May 2022, it said.

The group said that if Ashley ever gave up CEO role he held since 2016, he would stay on board as an executive director.

Shares on Fed were down 1% at 0726 GMT, shortening gains to 35% in 2021.

Ashley, owner of English Premier League soccer club Newcastle United, founded the company in 1982 and retains 64% of its equity. He held the title of executive deputy chairman when Sports Direct floated from 2007 until 2016.

Ashley's daughter Anna is partner to Murray.

Although Murray does not currently sit on Frasers Board, his job has made him central to the group's strategy to modernise and go upmarket - the elevation strategy.

Ashley's long-stated desire is to make Frasers the Selfridges of sport, emulating the status of the London department store.

The group's elevation strategy is changing the business and will receive positive feedback from consumers and our brand partners, particularly on projects such as the new Oxford Street Sports Direct which opened in June 2021, Frasers said.

The board considers it appropriate that Michael leads us forward on this increasingly successful passage to the highest point in the Monterey Mountains.

The group reported a 29.4% increase in core earnings in the years to April 25 as a strong online performance offset a hit from store closures due to COVID - 19 pandemic.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were 390.8 million pounds - up from 302.1 million pounds in 2019 20 - 25, despite an 8.4% decline in revenue to 3.6 billion pounds.

Frasers said its online stores have performed above expectations since reopening after the lockdown and its UK operation has continued to significantly outperform pre-COVID - 19 periods.

However, it said it was not giving guidance for the 2021-22 year due to uncertainty caused by pandemic.

Management remains in the opinion that there is a high risk of future Covid - 19 pandemic restrictions, likely to be over this Winter and maybe beyond, it said.