Mike Ashley bows out as director of retail giant Frasers Group

Retail magnate Mike Ashley is to step down as a director of Sports Direct and House of Fraser owner Frasers Group next month, but has agreed to lend £100 million to the business.

The billionaire businessman - who founded the Sports Direct empire four decades ago - will leave the board after the group’s annual shareholder meeting on October 19, although he will continue to act as an adviser to the board and senior management.

The former Newcastle United owner had already handed over the reins to new chief executive Michael Murray in May, when he stepped back into an executive director role.

Murray, who is the founder’s son-in-law, was promoted to the position after leading Frasers' “elevation strategy” as the firm has sought to grow its premium arm.

Mike Ashley founded his Sports Direct retail empire four decades ago.

But Ashley has remained closely involved in the firm’s management and is still the group’s controlling shareholder with a majority stake.

Ashley launched Sports Direct in 1982, changing its name to Frasers Group after buying the House of Fraser department store business. It has since gone on to snap up a raft of high street brands, including Game, Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and Flannels.

Ashley said he remained “100 per cent committed” to backing the group and will stump up £100m in financing to show his “continuing strong support”, with the cash lent on the same commercial terms as its existing borrowing facilities.

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.”

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