Michael Ashley, an English sportswear and clothing entrepreneur, is a truly remarkable individual. Some refer to him as the UK’s most reclusive billionaire, while others consider him odd. Despite the fact that he is one of the wealthiest men in the United Kingdom, he has been observed carrying a briefcase made of a plastic shopping bag. He prefers to keep a low profile and avoids giving interviews. He also doesn’t go to any industry events. Despite this, he was frequently seen partying, drinking, gambling, and watching football from the stands with friends and acquaintances. Michal Ashley, in fact, lives his life on his own terms and has never let anything stand in his way. His passion for athletics is legendary. He intended to become a squash player after graduating from high school, but when that opportunity did not present itself, he became a coach before eventually opening a sporting goods store. It was quickly followed by a slew of others, and today’s Sports Direct International plc has more than 500 retail outlets across the world. He also owns Newcastle United Football Team and owns shares in Rangers, a Scottish football club.
Childhood and Early Life
Michael Ashley was born in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England, on September 9, 1964. Although nothing is known about his parents, it is apparent that he came from a poor family. He was a 16-year-old student at Burnham Grammar School when he graduated in 1980.
He began playing squash at the county level after graduating from high school. His sporting career was cut short due to injuries, but it did not end his involvement with squash. Michael began instructing students and quickly rose to the position of county squash coach. However, that, too, was fleeting. His inner businessman steered him in a different route.
Career of Michael Ashley
Michael Ashley opened his first store in Maidenhead, a wealthy Berkshire town, in 1982. He was only eighteen years old at the time. Mike Ashley Sports was his moniker, and he traded on a low margin. By 1984, Michael had made enough money to grow his business. He then used private funds to create Preston Sports Store in London. It was also a profitable endeavor for him, with a healthy profit margin.
He opened numerous other outlets in and around London, buoyed by its success. By 1992, the company had grown to twelve locations, each of which was self-funded. Sports and Ski was the name of the chain. Mike rebranded the chain Sports Soccer between 1995 and 1996. The brand had roughly fifty locations around the country by the end of the 1990s.
He also bought a home in Dunstable, a market town in Bedfordshire, with a square footage of roughly 100,000 square feet. The company’s headquarters were moved to this freshly purchased property. Initially, Ashley owned and operated the company as a solo proprietorship. So far, he had complete control over every element of its operation. He converted it to a limited liability company in 1999, but he remained the company’s president. He also changed the name of his business to Sports Direct International plc.
The company has been steadily growing since the year 2000. The corporation launched a joint venture in Belgium the same year. It had roughly 80 stores at this point. In 2002, he purchased eleven Lillywhites outlets as well as the Lonsdale brand. The corporation has 150 retail outlets under its belt by 2003. Donnay was also acquired.
Michael Ashley paid £40 million for Dunlop Slazenger, a sports equipment manufacturing company, in February 2004. As a result, he acquired the Dunlop, Slazenger, and Carlton brands. He bought Karrimor, an outdoor gear manufacturer, for five million ponds the same year.
Michael Ashley signed a long-term contract with Umbro, an English sportswear and football equipment manufacturer, in 2005, however it never materialized. Instead, in 2006, he paid an estimated £12 million for Kangol, a company known for its headgears.
In 2007, Sports Direct International plc went public. Michael’s reputation was so strong that he was able to raise $ 1.8 billion through an IPO. The company also launched an online store with the domain name SportsDirect.com in the same year. Since then, there has been no turning back.
Sport Direct bought Everlast for £84 million in the same year, under the direction of Michael Ashley. In 2008, it also purchased a 12.3 percent stake in the John David Group. For £24 million in 2012, the business bought competitor shop JJB’s brand name, twenty outlets, their website, and all of their merchandise. Sport Direct purchased 116 Republic locations, as well as the Republic brand and headquarters, in 2013.
Sports Direct is now a component of the FTSE 100 Index. It employs over eleven thousand employees and has about 500 retail shops across Europe. Michael is still the group’s Executive Deputy Chairman.
Major Projects of Michael Ashley
Despite the fact that Sport Direct is now a publicly traded company, Michael Ashley still owns 61.7 percent of the company. He made the most of his money through purchasing brands, with Donnay being the first large brand he purchased. Later, he bought brands such as Dunlop Slazenger, Everlast, Karrimor, Kangol, Lonsdale, and Firetrap, among others.
Michal paid a large sum of £134 million to purchase Newcastle United Football Club in 2007. He also bought an 8.9% share in Rangers Football Club, which is based in Glasgow.
Personal History and Legacy
Michael Ashley married Linda Jerlmyr in 1988. She was an economics graduate from Sweden. Matilda, Anna, and Oliver were their three children. In 2003, their marriage came to an end. Ashley is said to have given up assets worth £50 million as part of her divorce settlement. Their sixteen-bedroom family house was included. Ashley is a very quiet individual, and nothing is known about his personal life. He now resides in Hertfordshire, where his house is tucked away behind a grove of trees.
Estimated Net Worth
Michael Ashley is a billionaire English retailer with a net worth of $6.3 billion. Ashley is the owner of Newcastle United, a Premier League soccer team. He made his money in the sporting goods business through his retailing group Sports Direct. Michael James Wallace Ashley was born in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, in 1964/65, and founded his sportswear company after leaving school in 1982.