%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Sports Direct is to hand its founder Mike Ashley a shares windfall worth a potential £65 million - as long as the retailer keeps up its rapid growth.
The Newcastle United owner, who set up the business on leaving school in 1982 and was the sole owner until its stock market listing in March 2007, will get eight million shares if targets are met for this year and 2015.
Mr Ashley currently receives no remuneration but, as deputy executive chairman, Sports Direct said he had played a central role in growing its value from £2 billion in 2012 to a FTSE 100 Index-listed firm worth £5 billion today.
The company will seek approval for the incentive scheme at a shareholder meeting next month, although the shares will not vest until summer 2018. Mr Ashley, who is majority owner of the company, will not vote on the resolution.
The grant of the shares is conditional on the company achieving underlying earnings of £330 million in this financial year and £410 million in 2015, as well as a target in relation to net debt at the end of the next financial year. Company earnings were £287.9 million in the year to last July.
A previous scheme for Mr Ashley that would have delivered a £26 million windfall was rejected in a shareholder vote in the summer of 2012.
The company said its new proposal has already received support from its largest institutional shareholder, Odey Asset Management.
Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell said: "The board believes that Mike is one of the outstanding retailers of his generation and that all shareholders benefit from his ongoing commitment to Sports Direct."
Part of Sports Direct's recent success has been put down to the company's employee bonus scheme, which last summer rewarded around 2,000 staff with shares worth around £68,000.
The 2011 staff scheme is also on track to reward more than 3,000 staff having already surpassed two of the four earnings targets.
Sports Direct has around 400 UK stores and operations in 19 countries in Europe. It also owns brands including Dunlop, Karrimor and Slazenger.
The richest self-made Brits
Ashley may get Sports Direct bonus
The Monaco-based billionaire is said to be worth more than £4.2bn, with Topshop and Topman among the country's most successful brands. His first job, aged 12, was working for a shoe importer. He set up his first business at 15 with a £20,000 loan, on-selling imported jeans from the Far East to London-based retailers.
Branson's first successful business venture came in 1976 when he set up Student magazine aged just 16. In 1970, he founded a mail-order record retailer and within a year had opened his first shop on London's Oxford Street – Virgin Records. His fortune is estimated at £3.085 billion, according to the Sunday Times rich list.
The inventor gave his name to the household vacuum cleaner that would make him a fortune of £1.45 billion. James Dyson first reinvented the vacuum cleaner with the launch of his dual cyclone bagless 'G-Force' cleaner in 1983, followed more recently by the hand dryer and the fan. In 1997, Dyson was awarded the Prince Phillip Designers Prize, and elected a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering in 2005.
Founder of Specsavers, Bristol-born Dame Mary Perkins is Britain's first female self-made billionaire, reportedly worth £1.15 billion. The 67-year-old and her husband Douglas, 68, founded the eye-care company in 1984 and they can now boast more than 900 stores across Britain. Perkins was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007 as recognition for her work.
Recently retired Beckham is the highest earner in British sport, according to the Sunday Times Sport Rich List. 'Brand Beckham' that has seen the 38-year-old amass a fortune of £165 million from endorsement deals and salary payments from his company, Footwork Productions, over the last decade. But Beckham is still some way off the richest sportsman in the world - golfer Tiger Woods, who is worth a staggering £570m.
Yorkshire Tory peer Lord Kirkham entered the billionaire league in 2010 when he sold his furniture company, DFS, for a reported £500m. In 41 years, Kirkham grew the brand, which started on the outskirts of Doncaster, to 79 stores, three factories and more than 2,600 staff. He received a Knighthood in 1995, a Peerage in 1999 and a CVO in 2005. He now owns a large share in Iceland supermarkets and is worth a reported £1.1billion.
The former Beatle takes the top spot in the Sunday Times Rich List of musical millionaires, sharing a £680 million fortune with his wife Nancy Shevell. McCartney has topped the list of wealthy musicians every year since it was formed 1989 when his fortune was estimated at £80 million.
The chairman of Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk, Essex-born Dunstone, 46, started his retail empire selling mobile phones from his west London flat in 1989. His fortune rose by £396 million to £1 billion in a year, after the demerger of Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk. Carphone Warehouse is Europe's largest independent mobile phone retailer and Dunstone was awarded a Knighthood in 2012 for services to the mobile communications industry.
Author of the hugely successful Harry Potter series, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, has a net worth of £560 million – making her the world's richest author. Rowling wrote the first Potter books on a manual typewriter while a single mother living on benefits. The manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel was rejected by 12 publishers and when finally accepted, Rowling received an advance of just £1,500. Harry Potter is the highest-grossing film series of all-time and the brand has been estimated to be worth as much as £10 billion.
East-ender Lord Sugar, best known for his no-nonsense judging on BBC1s The Apprentice, started his career at 16, selling car aerials and electrical goods out of a van he had bought with savings of £50. In 1968 at the age of 21, Sugar started home electronics company, Amstrad (short for Alan Michael Sugar Trading). By the age of 40 he was worth about £600m. Sir Alan sold Amstrad in 2007, and is now worth a reported £770m, with much of his wealth coming from his extensive property empire.