HE is known both in his business and football life as a ruthless operator, and yesterday Mike Ashley showed exactly why he has that reputation when it was revealed that he had sacked the entire House of Fraser board and management in one day of mayhem.

The billionaire tycoon’s actions were announced to the London Stock Exchange after the close of trading on Monday and was confirmed yesterday morning.

Ashley’s £90 million takeover of House of Fraser after the department store chain went into administration was always likely to end in savage cuts with the Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner having made known his poor opinion of the company’s bosses.

Yet the scale and swiftness of the sackings surprised onlookers, who thought Ashley might retain some of the management to ensure continuity. That was not to be the case, however, as a terse announcement confirmed the sackings which reportedly include chief executive Alex Williamson who was said to have cleared his desk. Former chairman Frank Slevin left shortly after the takeover and all the other directors have now followed him, willingly or unwillingly.

The statement read: “Following the collapse of House of Fraser on August 10, 2018, and subsequent calls for an investigation into the circumstances of that collapse, the company today announces that we have dismissed the former directors and senior management of House of Fraser.”

The sacking of House of Fraser’s management caught the City off guard, not least due to its timing after the close of the Stock Exchange.

Richard Lim, of the Retail Economics consultancy, commented that Ashley had taken “drastic action following a series of woeful management decisions, clumsy execution and an outdated perception of the UK market”.

He said: “The retailer operates in the part of the industry under the most significant amount of pressure and the race is on to rapidly restructure the business to ensure the takeover is a success.”

Independent retail analyst Richard Hyman said: “He was always likely to want his own people in there. One would have thought a few of them would be worth keeping in order to maintain continuity.”

Ashley’s decision to close the House of Fraser store at the west end of Princes Street was announced last month.

The store was leased from Edinburgh property company Parabola and The National revealed that it will now be turned into prime offices by the firm.

Ashley is best known in Scotland for his role in a long-running dispute over contracts between Rangers, where he used to be a major shareholder, and Sports Direct.

He has recently put Newcastle United up for sale, but has not had a suitable offer for the club which is yet to win a league match this season, and is currently joint bottom of the English Premier League.