Sports Direct WILL shut stores for coronavirus lockdown in U-turn after Mike Ashley slammed for calling it ‘vital’ – The Sun

SPORTS Direct WILL shut its stores in the coronavirus lockdown after sparking outrage for claiming it is "vital" for them to remain open during the crisis.

The sportswear brand last night emailed its employees – just 16 minutes after Boris Johnson began his televised speech telling Brits to stay at home – declaring all stores would keep their doors open.

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In the email, workers were told the stores would stay open as they are "uniquely well-placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible”.

The email was sent out by Frasers Group, which owns Evans Cycles and Sports Directs, both of which plan on keeping all their combined 491 UK stores open.

Frasers Group is owned by billionaire Mike Ashley who is said to be worth a whopping £1.977 billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

One Sports Direct employee told The Sun: “I think it's absolutely disgusting at a time when the Nation is facing the biggest crisis in modern history that Sports Direct are willing to risk the health and well-being of their employees and the general public to commercially exploit the retail market."

“They are not an essential retailer by any stretch of the imagination and they should put people before pounds.”

The news was met with ridicule and outrage on social media.

One user commented: “Why not use your 30 minutes of exercise time a day to come to Sports Direct and buy some golf balls!”

Another tweeted: “Don’t leave your house other than to buy food/medicine/essential work or if you work at sports direct. Love that. #Fuming.”

A third commented: “So Sports Direct are staying open because they’re a ‘vital store’ and Part timers aren’t getting any hours and because it’s not closed the staff can’t apply for a grant, Mike Ashley has truly outdone himself.”

The statement, sent out at 8.46pm to all 17,559 Fraser Group employees said: “As the government rightly recognises in it’s guidance on social distancing, looking after physical and mental well-being during this unprecedented period of social isolation will be extremely important to prevent people ‘falling into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make them feel worse.'

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“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."

“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 Sun has approached Sports Direct and Evans Cycles for comment.

 

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