Incoming boss of Sports Direct owner to get £100m payout if he doubles share price

The incoming 31-year-old boss of Sports Direct owner Frasers Group could be handed shares worth more than £100m if he more than doubles its share price.

The company, which also owns the House of Fraser department stores and the designer fashion chain Flannels, revealed the bumper potential payout on Wednesday night, weeks after it announced that Michael Murray would be taking over from his future father-in-law, Mike Ashley, next spring.

Murray, who is engaged to Ashley’s daughter, earned more than £9.7m from Frasers in 2019 and 2020 through consultancy work for the business. The payout would be far more than the £150,000 a year paid to Sports Direct’s previous senior executives, such as Dave Forsey.

The Doncaster-born son of a property developer began by helping Ashley with personal property deals a few years after meeting his daughter Anna on holiday in 2011, and rose to become Ashley’s right-hand man. Currently the retailer’s “head of elevation”, he was tasked by Ashley with overseeing the revamp of Sports Direct stores as well as expanding Flannels, improving the group’s use of technology, and building relationships with high-end brands.

“In considering a remuneration package, the remuneration committee was mindful of setting targets that were both stretching and achievable and that would reward an incoming chief executive commensurately with the shareholder value that could be attained,” Frasers said in a statement.

However, the £100m share option scheme will only be triggered if Frasers Group shares more than double to £15 each by 2025 under Murray’s leadership. Frasers shares ended the day at just over £6.50.

Frasers Group’s board said the target was “suitably challenging” but “would be evidence of the success of the group’s elevation strategy and Michael’s leading role in this”.

Frasers has form when it comes to eye-watering pay deals: last year shareholders backed another £100m share scheme that has the potential to make 10 of its employees millionaires if they triple its share price.

Murray will take home an annual salary of £1m regardless of the movement in the company’s share price. Ashley does not take a salary in his current position. The new pay package will be put to Frasers Group shareholders on 29 September.

Murray began his career running festivals and student nights while at Reading University after attending Sedbergh private school in Cumbria. He also started his property investment career as a student by buying two bars. He is due to take over as chief executive in May 2022.

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