Frasers Group Confirms Plans for CEO Mike Ashley to Step Down

LONDON — Frasers Group, the U.K retail group behind Sports Direct, Flannels and House of Fraser, has confirmed media speculation that British retail tycoon Mike Ashley plans to step down from his role as the group’s chief executive officer and hand over the reins to his future son-in-law, Michael Murray, by May 2022.

“The board of Frasers is now in discussions with regards to transitioning the ceo role from Mike Ashley to Michael Murray,” said a Frasers spokesperson in a statement.

The company added that “a reward and remuneration package” for Murray is now under consideration, subject to shareholder approval of his appointment.

Ashley, who still owns 64 percent of the group, will remain on its board as an executive director, with Murray taking over day-to-day operations.

Murray, aged 31 and engaged to Ashley’s daughter Anna, has been working as the group’s head of elevation and has been tasked with creating a more upmarket image for the company. He has spearheaded the opening of Flannels’ first London flagship on Oxford Street and most recently was behind the retailer’s ambitious foray into beauty retailing, which aimed to bring new luxury shopping experiences to regional customers across the U.K.

“We’ve proved our concept and the fact that the consumer really does exist in regional cities, they are just not being served in a modern, forward-thinking way. There’s a reason why beauty halls are closing all around the world because the concept is dead — it’s a dying business model. We want to really rip up the rule books and put the consumer first,” he told WWD during the launch.

Murray has been employing a digital-first focus from the get-go and investing in online content in and out of stores. To date, his efforts helped boost the group’s performance, with shares being at their highest level since 2015.

“The  group’s elevation strategy is transforming the business and receiving positive feedback from consumers and our brand partners, especially on projects such as the new Oxford Street Sports Direct which opened in June 2021,” added the company.

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