Mike Ashley will step down as head of the Fraser Group, proprietor of Sports activities Direct. Fraser Group

Mike Ashley is ready to step down as chief govt of SportsDirect proprietor Fraser Group and hand over his daughter’s fiancée in Could subsequent yr.

The corporate, which additionally owns the Home of Fraser division retailer and designer trend chain Flannels, mentioned it was in discussions to “transition” the chief govt position to Michael Murray, 31, who’s at the moment in Fraser’s “top”. chief”. ,

The Doncaster-born son of a property developer started by serving to Ashley with private property offers in 2011, a number of years after assembly his daughter Anna on trip. He first began working for Ashley’s retail group in 2016.

The previous membership promoter has change into Ashley’s proper hand, overseeing the revamp of Sports activities Direct shops in addition to increasing Flannel, enhancing the group’s use of expertise and constructing relationships with high-end manufacturers.

Nonetheless, Murray is just not on the corporate’s board, however serves as an advisor, and is paid as much as 25% of any worth he creates from property offers.

In 2019 and 2020 the ensuing Frasers handed Murray a complete of £9.7m. Within the earlier yr he was paid £2.5m associated to his property providers and £100,000 for his “elevation” work.

Mike Ashley (proper) leaving Sports activities Direct headquarters in London with Michael Murray in 2019. {Photograph}: Kirsty O’Connor / PA

In a press release launched Thursday to accompany his annual outcomes, Frasers mentioned a brand new bounty bundle was into consideration on the idea that Murray would assume the chief govt position on Could 1, 2022.

Murray is ready to take over as chief govt 5 years after enjoying Ashley, stepping down following the resignation of his longtime right-hand man, Dave Forsey.

The corporate mentioned in a press release that Ashley will stay on the board as govt director.

It added: “The Group’s improve technique is remodeling the enterprise and is garnering optimistic suggestions from shoppers and our model companions, significantly on tasks similar to the brand new Oxford Road Sports activities Direct which opened in June 2021.

“The Board considers it acceptable that Michael lead us on this more and more profitable regeneration journey.”

A potential change in management got here as Fraser Group gross sales declined 8.4% and revenue earlier than tax fell 94% within the earlier fiscal yr to £8.5m, as the corporate wrote off the worth of shops and funding properties by £85m between switches was. In the direction of on-line procuring throughout the pandemic.

Income declined regardless of the agency claiming £80m in furlough help and £97.5m in enterprise price aid globally.

The corporate mentioned it can’t present steering on gross sales and earnings for the approaching yr because of “future uncertainty” in regards to the progress of the pandemic and the “excessive danger” of additional Excessive Road lockdowns.

Gross sales within the group’s UK sports activities division, which incorporates the core Sports activities Direct chain and Evans, fell about 15% excluding acquisitions, because the group was compelled to shut most of its shops throughout a number of excessive avenue lockdowns. Nonetheless, the underlying revenue elevated by virtually 23% to £279m.

Gross sales of the premium way of life division, together with Flannels and Home of Fraser, elevated 1.9% as extra Flannels retailers opened and on-line gross sales elevated. That enhance, cost-cutting and vacation buying and selling charges led to the underlying revenue for the break up rising from £4.5m to just about £54m.

Fraser mentioned he needs to extend gross sales throughout his luxurious flannels sequence to £2bn over the subsequent 5 years.

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Nonetheless, the group closed 5 Home of Fraser shops throughout the yr, bringing the entire to 43, down from about 60 when it was acquired three years earlier.

Fraser’s president, David Daly, warned that after the tax vacation throughout the earlier yr, extra Home of Fraser shops might have to shut if full enterprise charges return. He mentioned the corporate wished to take over Debenhams’ former retailers, however “extreme industrial charges” decreased the viability of these investments.

“For us to justify the existence of a few of these Home of Fraser shops, there should be a change within the outdated enterprise price system,” Daly mentioned.

“There ought to be considerations in regards to the sustainability of some retailers as authorities help schemes run out, but there may be nonetheless little or no concrete long-term motion being taken by the federal government to save lots of the excessive avenue.”

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