Doncaster businessman, son-in-law of Sports Direct mogul Mike Ashley, tasked with saving House of Fraser

A 28-year-old businessman from Doncaster who is the right hand man and son-in-law of Sports Direct mogul Mike Ashley has been given the task of saving House of Fraser.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 3:48 pm
Sports Direct and Newcastle United chief Mike Ashley. (Photo:PA).

Michael Murray, 28, will have a key role in deciding the future of House Of Fraser's stores, according to reports, after Ashley's Sports Direct empire bought the struggling department store out of administration for £90 million last week.

But who is Michael Murray and what is his Doncaster background? Here's everything we know.

Who is he?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Michael is the son of Doncaster property and business magnate Mick Murray, who set up the all-conquering Doncaster-based Lazarus Properties with business partner Lloyd Nicholson in 1997. The firm is one of the town's best known and owns prime residential and commerical buildings across the region as well as London.

What's his background?

He was educated at the private Sedbergh School - which counts former England rugby captain Will Carling among its former pupils.

How did he get into business?

He set up an events company with pal Toby Mullins, 26, after they were students at Reading University. Their club nights, where tickets cost £5 and revellers

down cheap booze have proved popular in the Berkshire town.

How did he get involved with Mike Ashley and Sports Direct?

Michael began dating Ashley's eldest daughter Anna, 26, after the pair met in Majorca in 2011.

In 2016, he was hired as a consultant by the billionaire sports mogul, who also owns Newcastle United Football Club and given the job of managing the Sports Direct empire.

Where does he live?

According to reports, Michael owns two London properties worth a combined £20 million. One is a three-bedroom flat, bought for £10.7million in 2013 using a loan provided by Ashley, near Harrods in upmarket Knightsbridge. He also has a six-bed mansion in Chelsea - bought for £9.5million cash in June 2014 - where he lives with Anna. The street is among the ten most expensive in the UK. He formerly lived in Doncaster in a detached house now thought to be worth £800,000.

What sort of lifestyle does he lead?

A jet-set one, if his social media is to be believed. His Facebook page shows them enjoying sun-kissed holidays, while on Twitter they discussed trips to Ibiza, Miami and Verbier

in Switzerland.

What's his role at Sports Direct?

After getting engaged to Anna, two years ago he was named 'head of elevation' at Sports Direct. He has been given the task of making the brand more upmarket and has been running the portfolio for the last three years.

It is thought he will be heavily involved in determining the future direction of House of Fraser and which of its stores will shut. Ashley announced last week that he wanted to make the chain 'the Harrods of the High Street."

The ailing chain’s 59 shops are likely to be at the forefront of Michael's workload - and will see him making deals for the stores, which are expected to involve rent cuts, and setting up Sports Direct or Flannels outlets.

How much is he paid?

According to sources, Michael has pocketed £5 million since his appointment two years ago. Many business experts believe Ashley to be grooming Murray as the successor to the business.

And what about Mike Ashley?

Ashley started Sports Direct 34 years ago with a £10,000 loan from his parents. He built it up from a single shop in Maidenhead, Berkshire, into one of the nation’s most successful retailers and holds a 55 per cent stake in the company, currently valued at around £1.4 billion.

His wealth allowed him to take over Newcastle United in 2007 - but there have been protests against his ownership by fans and Sports Direct also came under fire several years ago after being blasted for its 'Dickensian' working practices after it emerged temporary workers were being paid below the national minimum wage.