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Mike Ashley’s future son-in-law, 31, gets set to take the reins of billionaire’s retail empire

Mike Ashley’s future son-in-law is getting ready to take the reins of the billionaire’s retail empire next year, making him one of the youngest bosses in the FSTE 250.

Michael Murray, 31, will become chief executive of Frasers Group on May 1, replacing the Sports Direct founder who is stepping back to become deputy chairman.

The Doncaster-born son of a property developer first started helping 56-year-old Ashley with personal property deals a few years after he reportedly met the businessman’s eldest daughter, Anna, on holiday in Majorca in 2011. 

The couple are now engaged and live together in a £10.7million mansion in the affluent district of Belgravia, central London.

Mr Murray today told his LinkedIn followers that the retail company ‘is only just getting started’ and praised Ashley for ’empowering him to change the way the group thinks’.

He had previously been promoted to ‘head of elevation’ and tasked with modernising the firm, revamping its Sports Direct stores and expanding its more upmarket Flannels business.   

Frasers told investors that a pay and bonus deal is currently being drawn up on the basis that Mr Murray will become chief executive.

Michael Murray, 31, told his LinkedIn followers that the retail company ‘is only just getting started’ and praised Mike Ashley, 56, for ’empowering him to change the way the group thinks’

Mr Murray will become chief executive of Frasers Group on May 1, replacing the Sports Direct founder (both pictured), who is stepping back to become deputy chairman

Mr Murray will become chief executive of Frasers Group on May 1, replacing the Sports Direct founder (both pictured), who is stepping back to become deputy chairman

The Doncaster-born son of a property developer met the billionaire businessman's eldest daughter, Anna, on holiday in Majorca in 2011

The Doncaster-born son of a property developer met the billionaire businessman’s eldest daughter, Anna, on holiday in Majorca in 2011

The ex-nightclub promoter wrote: ‘Last week it was announced that I will become the CEO of Frasers Group on 1st May 2022.

‘Mike Ashley has built a retail empire of 1,000+ stores, driven by an amazing workforce of 25,000+ globally and has achieved the status as one of the UK’s most successful retailers ever!

‘Mike has empowered me to change the way the group thinks and operates throughout the Elevation Strategy.

‘I’m now excited to lead the group into the future, building on our rock solid foundations and our ambition to relentlessly improve and change the game.

‘We’re only just getting started.’

Mr Murray isn’t on the company payroll and doesn’t even sit on the board but has collected more than £15million in fees over the last few years while acting as a consultant.

He is said to be extremely close to Ashley, with one source saying he has the Newcastle United owner’s ear and that the pair ‘thrash out business deals over drinks or dinner or on family holidays away from the wider management team’.

In a post on the retail group’s Instagram page, Mr Murray also said: ‘Last week it was proposed that as of May 2022, I will transition into the role of CEO of Frasers Group. 

His colleague David Al-Mudallal, who is stepping into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the group, praised Mr Murray's transition to CEO

His colleague David Al-Mudallal, who is stepping into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the group, praised Mr Murray’s transition to CEO

Mr Al-Mudallal (pictured right) and Mr Murray. He wrote last Friday: 'Incredibly proud to have worked alongside Michael Murray for the last four years'

Mr Al-Mudallal (pictured right) and Mr Murray. He wrote last Friday: ‘Incredibly proud to have worked alongside Michael Murray for the last four years’

Ex-nightclub promoter who met Mike Ashley’s daughter on holiday and is now set to take over reigns of retail empire after earning millions as firm’s ‘head of elevation’ 

Michael Murray, 31, is the son of a Doncaster property baron and former nightclub promoter. 

He met the daughter of Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley in Majorca in 2011 and quickly ingratiated himself with the billionaire buisnessman. 

He started out helping Ashley with some personal property deals before being hired by Frasers to oversee real estate activities. 

Murray was then promoted to ‘head of elevation’ and tasked with modernising the group, revamping its Sports Direct stores and expanding its more upmarket Flannels business. 

He isn’t on the company payroll and doesn’t even sit on the board but has collected more than £15 million in fees over the last few years while acting as a consultant. 

Explaining how he earns his money, Murray told the Financial Times: ‘The board appoints an independent valuation team to value the properties and I get 25 per cent, after all the costs, of the value they deem I’ve created for the business.’ 

The system allows him to pocket millions every year and is in stark contrast to the fixed salaries of £150,000 a year paid to Frasers’ other executive directors. 

‘I can’t wait to bring you all into the next chapter of Frasers Group – a chapter that I promise to be as bold and as daring as our last.

‘Here’s to the next 40 years. The best is yet to come.’

His colleague David Al-Mudallal, who is stepping into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the group, praised Mr Murray’s transition to CEO.

He wrote last Friday: ‘Incredibly proud to have worked alongside Michael Murray for the last four years. 

‘Today, he starts the transition into the role of CEO. This is a culmination of his and the teams’ immense hard work.

‘Our elevation strategy has exceeded all expectations and none of this would have been possible without Michael’s vision, drive and talent.’ 

Mr Murray alluded to his partnership with Ashley in an interview last year: ‘I’m thinking about the next 10 to 20 years. Me and Mike are working like a partnership.

‘He looks after the back end – systems, logistics – I look after customer-facing side and the image of the business.’

His impending promotion, reported by The Telegraph, suggests that Ashley is keen for him to have an even greater role – though reports suggest that the famously mercurial retail boss could still change his plans.

Ashley’s plan to step down comes as he continues to unsuccessfully search for a buyer for Newcastle Football Club.

The businessman has been one of the high street’s most colourful characters since founding Sports Direct in 1982.

Ashley has rapidly grown his retail operation in recent years, snapping up a number of distressed British brands including Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Game.

The company purchased ailing House of Fraser in 2018 after the department store chain collapsed into administration. The discount sports retailer paid £90million in cash to buy the high street group, which included all of its UK stores, the branding and all of its stock.

At least 14 of House of Fraser’s original 59 stores have closed since the department store chain was bought out of administration by Frasers Group, and Mr Ashley has previously warned that more closures could be on the cards.

Mr Murray (pictured above) is said to be extremely close to Ashley, with one source saying he has the Newcastle United owner's ear and that the pair ' thrash out business deals over drinks or dinner or on family holidays away from the wider management team'

Mr Murray (pictured above) is said to be extremely close to Ashley, with one source saying he has the Newcastle United owner’s ear and that the pair ‘ thrash out business deals over drinks or dinner or on family holidays away from the wider management team’

Mr Murray and Ashley's daughter Anna are engaged and live together in a £10.7million mansion in the affluent district of Belgravia, central London

Mr Murray and Ashley’s daughter Anna are engaged and live together in a £10.7million mansion in the affluent district of Belgravia, central London 

And in November last year, he offered an emergency £50million loan to help tide Sir Philip Green’s struggling Arcadia Group over until Christmas.

But his offer was angrily dismissed at the time as a ‘publicity stunt’ by sources close to Sir Philip.

One said: ‘Sir Philip is not keen to jump into bed with a chancer like Mike Ashley.’

Sir Philip and Ashley – known as ‘Masher’ to his inner circle – were friends, but tension between the two grew as their high street rivalry intensified.

The offer of a loan from a major retail rival was described as ‘provocative’ by City sources and likely irritated Sir Philip – a flamboyant businessman once branded the ‘King of the High Street’.

Ashley (top right) has rapidly grown his retail operation in recent years, snapping up a number of distressed British brands including Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Game

Ashley (top right) has rapidly grown his retail operation in recent years, snapping up a number of distressed British brands including Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Game

Friends of Sir Philip previously said the loan offer was being dismissed as no more than Ashley ‘having a bit of fun’.

Frasers Group is now worth around £3billion and operates almost 1,000 shops.

Ashley was previously executive deputy chairman of the group – which changed its name from Sports Direct International to Frasers Group last year – until 2016, when long-serving chief executive Dave Forsey resigned.

The company owns a string of well-known brands, including Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Flannels, GAME, Jack Wills, Sofa.com, Evans Cycles, USC, and Everlast.

Frasers Group also launched a bid to take over the newly collapsed Debenhams, but the coup failed.


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