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Frasers Group boss parties with sportswear chiefs at castle

Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of Adidas, attends a Frasers Group gathering at Cholmondeley Castle this weekend
Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of Adidas, said at the event it was crucial for sportswear brands to be 'more local' - Sarah Meyssonnier/REUTERS

The boss of Sports Direct owner Frasers Group kicked off the Bank holiday weekend by partying with the heads of Adidas and Under Armour at a historic castle.

Former nightclub promoter Michael Murray, who is married to Mike Ashley’s daughter Anna, also entertained bosses from Nike, Under Armour and Hugo Boss at Cholmondeley amid efforts to build closer ties with brands.

Mr Murray took over Frasers Group, which his father-in-law founded as Sports Direct International, in 2022.

Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of Adidas said at the event that it was crucial for sportswear brands to be “more local” and “quicker” in spotting trends.

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The comments came after the shoemaker’s sales of Adidas Samba trainers fell when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wore them for an interview last month, prompting accusations that he had ruined the shoe’s credibility.

The Prime Minister apologised to Adidas Samba fans after he wore them in an interview
The Prime Minister apologises to Adidas Samba fans after wearing them in an interview

Mr Gulden said: “The consumer in different regions reacts to different things. We need to be more local and quicker when things are changing. Centralistic global decisions often lead to unwanted inventory and discounts, which is detrimental to our industry.”

Cholmondeley Castle is a listed country house in Cheshire, built at the start of the 19th century for British politician George Cholmondeley, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley.

Carl Grebert, Nike’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, also spoke about the “blurring” of sport and lifestyle wear.

Great sports brands were still anchored in sport, he said, noting like Mr Gulden that trends emerge far faster than in the past.

He said: “What has stayed consistent at the core is the consumer looking for a great product with a story well told based on an insight that serves athletes – that has been the common denominator for all brands in the industry that have been successful over the last few years.”

Some 2,000 employees from Frasers Group, who were selected based on performance, attended the gathering.

The company describes the biennial event as part industry conference and part music festival. It was headlined by the British rapper and singer-songwriter Bree Runway, who has collaborated with Missy Elliott, DJ Joel Corry and Manchester rapper Aitch. Some 60pc of staff selected to attend work in retail and warehouses, while 40pc came from head office.

Mr Ashley is the UK’s 49th richest man. He owned Newcastle United from 2007 to 2021.