Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# Mike Ashley

Random fact: Called 'Little Emp' by British retail billionaire Philip Green.

Overview

Ashley is the founder and largest shareholder of Sports Direct, the U.K.'s largest sporting-goods retailer, with more than 700 sports stores across Europe. The Mansfield, England-based company had revenue of 2.9 billion pounds ($4 billion) in the year ending April 2016 from internal brands such as Slazenger and boxing product maker Lonsdale.

As of Jan. 21, 2018:
Last change ()
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Industry Retail
Biggest asset N/A
Citizenship United Kingdom
Age 52
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

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Latest News

Net Worth Summary

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Biography

Birthdate: 12/9/1964
Family: Divorced, 3 children

Michael Ashley was born in Walsall, England, in December 1964. The son of a factory manager and secretary, he left school at age 16 after his parents mortgaged their bungalow and gave him 10 thousand pounds ($24,000) to buy a sports shop in Maidenhead, England. He owned three outlets by 1990. A decade later, he'd expanded it into a chain of 100 stores called Sports Soccer, which focused on selling discounted sporting goods.

In 2002, he bought Lillywhites, the central London sports store that was established in 1863, and began adding an assortment of sport and leisure labels to the company, which he then sold in his stores. He acquired Slazenger, the British tennis, golf and cricket brand, in 2004, also adding Lonsdale, a boxing and martial arts label, and outdoor gear maker Karrimor to his portfolio.

Three years later, he sold Sports Direct shares on the London Stock Exchange, after the company had grown to more than 450 stores and revenue of $2.1 billion. He received $1.8 billion from the sale and the same year bought Newcastle United, a soccer club in England's Premier League championship, for more than $260 million.

Ashley is protective of his privacy and rarely gives press interviews. He married Swedish property developer Linda Jerlmyr in 1989, and they divorced in 2003, with Ashley reportedly paying $80 million in settlement, according to local media reports. The pair began dating again in 2011, according to local media reports.

Milestones
  • 1964 Michael James Wallace Ashley is born in Walsall, England.
  • 1980 Leaves school and begins to build a chain of sports stores.
  • 1982 Opens first store, Mike Ashley Sports, the forerunner to Sports Direct.
  • 2000 Alerts U.K. authorities to price-fixing of replica soccer shirts.
  • 2002 Buys Lillywhites, the five-story central London sports store.
  • 2003 Divorces from wife Linda, paying her a reported $80 million.
  • 2005 Builds a 9.6 percent stake in rival sports chain, JJB Sports.
  • 2007 Acquires Newcastle United, a Premier League soccer team, for $260 million.
  • 2007 Sports Direct lists on the London Stock Exchange.
  • 2015 Transfers majority of Sports Direct stake to holding company Mash Beta.