Sports Direct to remain open claiming staff are key workers
Boris Johnson has ordered the UK into lockdown, saying the only shops still allowed to remain open are those selling ‘essential’ goods.
People have been told to stay at home unless they are buying supplies, going to work, exercising or helping the vulnerable, while gatherings of more than two people have been banned.
However, bosses at Sports Direct have said all stores will remain open because selling sporting and fitness equipment makes the company a vital asset during a national shutdown.
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, wrote to all workers within 30 minutes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down all non-essential retailers.
Finance chief Chris Wootton wrote: ‘We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home… indeed home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after coronavirus itself.
‘Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the population looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
‘Consequently, we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the Government’s current social distancing guidance).
‘There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population.’
The finance chief, who sits on the board alongside chief executive and majority owner Mr Ashley, signed off: ‘Thanks for your incredible efforts during this time.’
The PM said restrictions would be tightened up so people should not be going shopping except for essentials such as food and medicine.
Although that meant that food retailers and pharmacies would remain open, Mr Johnson said people should limit shopping trips and use delivery services where possible.
In a sombre statement, Mr Johnson said: ‘To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.’
The guidance issued by the Government stated that hair, beauty and nail salons and outdoor and indoor markets – apart from food markets – would also be shut.
A series of retailers had already announced they were closing their doors, including John Lewis and Primark.
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