Frasers’ new director is boyfriend of owner Mike Ashley’s daughter

The owner of Sports Direct, Frasers Group, has promoted the boyfriend of Mike Ashley’s youngest daughter to the company’s board, it has emerged.

David Al-Mudallal, 31, the chief operating officer at Frasers, has been appointed to the board of Frasers, making him one of the youngest directors of a FTSE 100 company.

The Sunday Times reported that Al-Mudallal is in a relationship with Matilda Ashley, 27, whose father is the majority shareholder in the £3.6bn company.

The appointment means that two of the 11 members of Frasers board are in relationships with Ashley’s daughters. Michael Murray, 34, who became chief executive at Frasers in 2022, is married to Anna Ashley.

Frasers has not breached any rules by failing to disclose the relationship between Matilda Ashley and Al-Mudallal, and it told the Sunday Times that it took governance seriously. It said Al-Mudallal had a successful track record in business.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Al-Mudallal joined Sports Direct in 2017 as its head of talent. He was then made chief of staff at Frasers in 2019, before moving up to group head of operations and then to the role of chief operating officer in August 2021. He was appointed to the Frasers board last month.

Before starting at Sports Direct he was a project engineer at the building maintenance firm East West Connect, after a getting a degree in American studies at the University of Sussex.

Frasers, which was founded by Ashley in 1982, began life as one shop in Maidenhead called Ashley Sports.

The group now owns more than 1,500 stores across 20 countries. It owns a string of high street chains including House of Fraser, Sports Direct, Flannels, Evans Cycles and Jack Wills. Ashley stepped down from the board in 2022 but still owns 73% of the shares and holds a wide-reaching consultancy role.

Under Frasers’ executive share scheme, Al-Mudallal could be eligible for a £9m bonus if the share price stays above £15 for 30 days and Frasers reports at least £500m of annual profit by October 2025.

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It has been reported that Frasers bought Double Take, a beauty business run by Matilda Ashley, for £1 last October without informing shareholders. She has resigned as a director of Double Take.

In a response to the Sunday Times, Frasers said: “Al-Mudallal is a highly regarded professional who was appointed to his role as chief operating officer and the board entirely on his merits. He has a successful track record in business. We are proud to have him serve. It is laughable to suggest the business would promote figures who were anything other than extremely qualified to do their job well.”

The Guardian has contacted Frasers for comment.


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