Luxury leathergoods firm Mulberry has refused to give founder Mike Ashley a seat on its board, despite attempts by Frasers Group to secure one. Thierry Andretta, Mulberry’s CEO, stated that Ashley lacks the necessary expertise to contribute to the company’s growth. Mulberry is instead planning to expand its board by appointing an independent non-executive director with international experience. On the other hand, Frasers Group, which owns a 36.8% stake in Mulberry, is primarily focused on the UK market.

It is understandable that Frasers Group would seek a board seat, given their significant stake in Mulberry. However, the Malaysian billionaire Ong Beng Seng and his wife Christina, who control over 56% of the business, have the majority control, making Frasers’ stake comparatively insignificant. Recently, Ashley met with Mulberry’s board to express frustration about a lack of transparency regarding the brand’s Asian business.

Mulberry’s latest annual results show an increase in sales, but a decline in profits. The company attributes this partly to the end of VAT-free shopping for tourists in the UK, which has had a negative impact on the luxury sector. Ashley is particularly interested in gaining more information about Mulberry’s joint venture with Chalice in Asia, which is controlled by the Ongs, in order to better understand its operations and the benefits enjoyed by the Ong family.

Mulberry’s decision to deny a board seat to Mike Ashley highlights the importance of expertise and experience that aligns with their growth strategy. The company remains focused on expanding and enhancing its operations, aiming to overcome the challenges faced by the luxury sector in both the UK and internationally.

Useful Links:
1. Mulberry’s Social Responsibility
2. Frasers Group Requests for Mulberry Board Seat Denied