Shock as Ashley announces intention to step down

Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley is to step down from the Frasers Group board following an AGM on 19 October, the company has revealed – but says his commitment to the firm as a shareholder is “as strong as ever.”

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange this morning (20 September), Frasers said the Sports Direct founder will not seek re-election as a director but intends to assist the group’s management team in an advisory capacity when required.

The shock announcement follows Michael Murray’s appointment as CEO of the Shirebrook-headquartered firm earlier this year.

Ashley will provide £100m of additional funding on the same commercial terms as Frasers’ existing unsecured borrowing facilities upon relinquishing his role.

He said: “Since Michael Murray took over the leadership of Frasers Group earlier this year, the business has gone from strength to strength. It is clear that the Group has the right leadership and strategy in place and I feel very confident passing the baton to Michael and his team. Although I am stepping down from the Board, I remain 100% committed to supporting Frasers and Michael’s plans and ambitions, and I look forward to helping the team as and when they require me. My commitment and support as a Frasers’ shareholder is as strong as ever.”

Ashley and Frasers have hit the headlines repeatedly in recent months, following swoops for popular fashion brands Missguided and I Saw it First with an offer to take full control of the ecommerce platform MySale – a bid that was knocked back by the Australian firm’s board last week.

Just over a week ago the controversial entrepreneur ramped up a legal dispute with FRP Advisory over the collapse of Debenhams, with the news following reports that Frasers was considering a bid for the historic Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes.

Frasers CEO Michael Murray said: “Mike has built an incredible business over the past 40 years and, on behalf of the Board and the Group, I want to thank him for all he has done. With our new strategy and leadership team, we are driving this business forward at pace and we are all excited for the future. We are grateful to have Mike’s support and expertise available to us as we continue the next stage of Frasers Group’s journey.”