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Toon owner Ashley on target for bonus windfall


Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley

Matthew Lewis

Mike Ashley

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley remains on track for a multi-million pound windfall after his Sports Direct chain continued to beat expectations.

The group, which has nearly 400 stores including 10 in Northern Ireland and owns brands including Slazenger, Donnay and Karrimor, said retail sales rose 10.2% to £408.6m in the 13 weeks to January 22, boosted by strong growth in internet trading.

It is now "certain" of hitting a bonus trigger of underlying profits of £225m for the year to April under the first leg of a three-year reward programme for Mr Ashley, who is executive deputy chairman.

Mr Ashley, who netted £929m in February 2007 after selling 43% of the business he founded, receives no pay but is now on course to receive six million shares, currently worth £16m, in 2018.

The bonus that Mr Ashley could pocket has risen by £4m in recent months.

Hitting a lower target of £215m will also be a key milestone in the chain's staff bonus scheme, which last year paid out more than £40,000 on average to some 2,000 staff.

It is thought to be the largest windfall handed out to shop staff in Britain and is a large factor in the chain's strong performance.

Under the terms of a new scheme introduced last year the company needs to hit targets for four years to trigger a further pay-out. Gross profits increased 10.2% to £184.4m.