The Sports Direct boss is reportedly expected to assume the role of deputy chairman following the move, which could be confirmed as soon as tomorrow (5 August) alongside the group’s annual results.
While Michael Murray, Frasers’ current head of Elevation who is engaged to Ashley’s daughter Anna, would assume the role of CEO following the handover, sources warned the Telegraph that Ashley could still change his plans, however.
According to the Telegraph, the role has placed Murray at the “centre of efforts to modernise and go up market, which have won reluctant praise from retail pundits and contributed to a surging share price”.
It comes as Frasers shares have hit their highest level since 2015, with investors predicting a “strong” performance this week.
The Telegraph also reported that as part of the handover, Murray is expected to be awarded a “potentially lucrative” bonus plan. It added that he has earned more than £10m from Sports Direct in recent years through his consultancy vehicle MM Prop Consultancy.
Ashley, who founded Sports Direct in 1982, previously served as executive deputy chairman of Sports Direct until 2016, when CEO Dave Forsey resigned. The business has since expanded, acquiring Evans Cycles, Jack Wills and House of Fraser amongst others.
Last year, Frasers Group was also in talks regarding a potential takeover of Debenhams after the department store chain collapsed into administration. Ashley’s near 30% stake in the firm was lost as a consortium of lenders took control of the business via a pre-pack administration. In turn, he agreed to settle for a purchase deal for the fixtures and fittings in the group’s empty stores.
Retail Sector has contacted Frasers Group for comment.