Founder, Sports Direct
A man on a mission, Mike Ashley has cruised up 28 places in this year’s list. If this were a popularity contest, it is unlikely he’d feature at all; Ashley’s appetite for eating up labels and small businesses means he has gobbled up plenty of brands and retailers, making few friends along the way. But his power over the independent and branded sectors is second to none. Firetrap has been Ashley’s most contentious deal, with Sports Direct selling Firetrap stock priced 75% lower than in stockists. However, Ashley has saved jobs at sportswear rival JJB Sports, buying 20 stores out of administration and protecting up to 550 roles. Ashley’s influence has even reached the premium sector, with Sports Direct acquiring a majority stake in mini-chain Flannels and speculation that Ashley will win the menswear licence for DKNY.
What he says… Ashley allegedly said that once he’d “got” JJB he’d go for JD Sports.
- Last year’s position 31
- Click here to view the full list