Michael Murray: Everything we know about Doncaster businessman taking charge of Sports Direct

He’s a former nightclub promoter from Doncaster, the son of one of the town’s most prominent businessmen and he’s set to take over the Sports Direct empire from Mike Ashley.

By Darren Burke
Thursday, 5th August 2021, 10:18 am

Here’s everything we know about Michael Murray

Mr Murray 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.

Michael Murray with his partner Anna. (Photo: Michael Murray/Twitter).

The firm is one of the town's best known and owns prime residential and commerical buildings across the region as well as London.

Mr Murray, engaged to be married to Mr Ashley's daughter Anna, is currently "head of elevation" at Frasers and is in charge of modernising stores and transforming the business.

Murray met Anna on holiday in Majorca in 2011 and the couple now live together in a £10.7 million mansion in Belgravia.

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

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.

In 2016, he was first 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

Murray is currently 'head of elevation' at the retail group, which also owns House of Fraser and Flannels, and has been tasked with modernising the business and creating a more upmarket image.

The 31-year-old isn't on the payroll of Frasers or its board of directors but has collected more than £15 million in fees over the last four years while acting as a consultant for the firm.

He was originally hired in 2016 to oversee the company's real estate activities before his promotion to 'head of elevation'.

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.

He said: 'It is up to the non-executives what I get paid. I don't take a salary and there are no guarantees. I get paid based on property performance and everything else is technically thrown in.

Murray 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.'

The 31-year-old alluded to their partnership 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.'