Expert comment: Mike Ashley steps down from Frasers Group board

Categories: Salford Business School

Retail boss Mike Ashley today announced he is to step down at Chairman of Frasers Group, which includes his famous Sports Direct Brand. Here retail expert Dr Gordon Fletcher assesses Mr Ashley's impact on the retail world.

Dr Fletcher said: "Mike Ashley's departure from the board of Frasers Group marks the end of a 40 year retail career. However, Ashley will continue as the largest shareholder with around 70% of the company's shares. The face of the UK high street and its retail parks are heavily shaped by the Frasers Group brands and it is difficult to imagine any major urban location without any Sports Direct, Jack Wills, Game or Evans Cycles.

The fortunes of the company have been strong in the post-COVID recovery period and Ashley's legacy of acquiring retail brands looks set to continue under the guidance of his son-in-law, Michael Murray.

For retailers across Greater Manchester the influence and importance of the Frasers Group brands are important as they are large anchor tenants they help to drive customers to smaller and independent retailers positioned in the same locations. Often positioned near large supermarkets these combined destinations are what gets consumers out from behind their screens to physically go shopping. With brands such as Sports Direct and Game catering for specific market niches there is still sufficient space in the competitive retailing industry to offer alternatives that are appeal to consumers in different ways.

With increased online offerings from House of Fraser and sofa.com this shows that the overall company is future-proofing itself irrespective of the future of retail. This will certainly help to keep the other shareholders of the group happy.

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