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Ashley re-emerges during takeover talk with message to retail staff

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Mike Ashley has re-emerged for the first time amid the Newcastle United takeover talk to deliver a video message to Frasers Group employees.

The retail tycoon has written to staff indicating stores - including Sports Direct and House of Fraser - could potentially re-open from June 1.

In a video message to staff, Ashley said: "Morning everyone. I hope everyone is well and families are well.

"Just to say thanks for all the efforts during this unprecedented crisis and a special shout out to Shirebrook. I'm telling you they have done an absolutely amazing job.

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"So thanks everyone and I hope to see you soon."

Frasers Group came under criticism when Sports Direct was among the last firms to close high street shops at the start of lockdown, having initially said they would remain open.

Ashley's recent letter confirmed staff would get 100 per cent of their salary for May - including those on casual contracts and those who are furloughed.

Frasers Group senior management will remain on a "reduced annual salary" capped at £40,000, while Ashley will not be withdrawing a salary from the company for his role as chief executive.

Ashley's letter to staff read: “The letter also notes the Government’s proposals for the phased reopening of retail stores, which whilst not guaranteed may potentially see the Company’s stores begin to open from June 1st 2020.

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“Further to this, during the lockdown period our online offering of sporting goods, fitness equipment and other products has continued trading.

“Therefore, the Company has decided payments to virtually all directly engaged employees, including those on casual contracts, will remain at 100% of normal salary levels for May. This applies to both furloughed and non-furloughed employees.”

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