Here is some information on Mike Ashley – courtesy of Wikipedia.
A couple of things to mentions are that there are no recent photographs of Mike – the last are apparently from the 1970’s which we find rather strange.
The second item of interest is that he is associated with Umbro – and that may mean Newcastle may eventually switch their shirt sponsor from Addidas.
But we’ll see – he first has to buy the club!
Mike Ashley grew up in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, where his parents still live in a modest bungalow.
Educated at Burnham Grammar School, the only photos that exist of Ashley to the present day are from the 1970’s, when he was a county squash coach and avid ballerina.
After leaving school at 16, Ashley began trading on the high street, opening Sport and Ski shops in and around London in the 1980’s – by 1990, there were three registered and recorded outlets.
The chain expanded quickly funded by private money and profit from the stores, and by the late 1990s Ashley had re-branded the chain Sports Soccer and opened over 100 stores across the United Kingdom.
However, as a sole trader and not having to file accounts at Companies House, little was known about him even by rival retailers. Although sole-trader status preserved his privacy, Ashley was missing out on the limited-liability advantage offered by company status, and in 1999 incorporated the business.
Ashley’s Hertfordshire based group Sports World International, with headquarters in Dunstable, Bedfordshire has over 300 UK stores including the chains Sports World, Lillywhites (acquired in 2002), and the Original Shoe Company. The group employs 8,000 people in the UK and at stores in Ireland, Belgium and Slovenia.
In 2006 it over took JJB Sports as the UK’s largest sports wear retailer. In mid-2006 it was also revealed that Ashley had held talks with John Hargreaves, founder of Matalan on both taking a 25% stake in the trouble retail business and installing mezzanine floors in larger Matalan stores, on which Sports World outlets could be operated.
In February 2003 he bought the Dunlop Slazenger brand for Â£40M, followed up by acquiring outdoor gear manufacturer Karrimor in March 2003, Kangol for Â£10M, boxing brand Lonsdale and tennis brand Donnay. Most of these brands were bought from distressed sellers, including after looking at a takeover, Ashley took a Â£9 million stake and signed a lucrative long-term deal with troubled brand Umbro.
Ashley has built a 29.4% stake in Blacks Leisure, the owner of Millets and Mambo, and is thought to hold stakes in JJB Sports and 19% of JD Sports.
In late November 2006, a number of business newspapers reported that Ashley was looking at an IPO of Sports World International. He has hired Merrill Lynch, who have initially valued the group at up to Â£2.5B ahead of the flotation on the London Stock Exchange. Floated at 300p, the shares initially performed poorly, on sentiment surrounding the sports retail sector and on suspicion of the group’s business model.