Mike Ashley quits Frasers Group after 40 years as controversial retail mogul leaves with £100m funding pledge
- His son-in-law Michael Murray took over as CEO earlier this year
- Ashley founded the group in 1982 as a single store in Maidenhead
- He will remain at the disposal of the group in an advisory capacity.
Mike Ashley will step down from Frasers Group’s board of directors next month, 40 years after founding the retail giant.
Frasers Group told investors on Tuesday that former CEO Ashley would not seek re-election as a director at the company’s annual general meeting on October 19, but would continue to lend his support to both as a shareholder and in an advisory capacity.
Ashley, who is Fraser’s largest shareholder through his investment vehicle, will provide the group with £100 million of additional funding on top of the existing financial backing it is already providing, the company said.
Mike Ashley said in a statement that the band had “gotten stronger and stronger” under Murray’s leadership.
Founded in 1982 as Mike Ashley Sports, Frasers Group experienced enormous growth, as well as disruption and controversy, during its founder’s tenure.
Having started life as a single store in Maidenhead, Frasers Group now owns House of Fraser, Jack Wills, GAME, Flannels, USC, Lillywhites and Evans Cycles.
The group’s intellectual property also includes brands like Everlast, Lonsdale, Slazenger and No Fear.
Mr Ashely’s son-in-law, Michael Murray, took over as head of Frasers Group earlier this year and has pledged to help rebuild the company’s relationship in the town during his tenure.
The group has recently embarked on a wave of acquisitions, scooping up businesses and intellectual property on the cheap as smaller rivals have fallen into administration including Jack Wills, DW Sports Fitness and Missguided.
Mike Ashley said in a statement that the group had “become stronger and stronger” under Murray, and the Frasers Group “now has the right leadership and strategy in place” to allow the founder to step down.
He added: “Although I am stepping down from the board, I remain 100 per cent committed to supporting the plans and ambitions of Frasers and Michael, and look forward to helping the team as they grow. ‘She’ll need me. My commitment and support as a shareholder of Frasers is stronger than ever.
Michael Murray said: “With our new strategy and our new management team, we are moving this business forward at a solid pace and we are all excited for the future.
“We are grateful to have Mike’s support and expertise at our disposal as we continue the next leg of Frasers Group’s journey.”