- Sports Direct changes its decision to keep the stores open and shuts down all of them
- After Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down all non-essential shops, Sports Direct was planning to keep its stores open as its stock is “vital”
- The retailer’s initial decision has attracted criticism over the welfare of its employees
Sports Direct, the UK’s largest sporting goods retailer owned by Frasers Group (LON:FRAS), has finally decided to close all of its stores, despite yesterday’s claims that stores will stay open as sports and fitness equipment makes the company an essential asset in times like this.
Half an hour minutes after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ordered the closure of non-essential shops, Frasers Group, owner of Sports Direct and Evan Cycles, contacted all of its staff claiming the company provides essential services and that it should remain open.
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The company leaders said the equipment it sells could be used at home as gyms are close because of a national shutdown.
“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,” Sports Direct’s Chief Financial Officer Chris Wootton wrote to staff, according to a report from PA.
“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,” he said.
Still, the retailer decided to close its branches suggesting it may reopen if the government allows it. The company’s initial decision to keep its stores open has drawn criticism over the wellbeing of its staff.
The UK’s Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday where he said that Sports Direct’s branches were not vital and should close.
Gove said Sports Direct’s CEO Mike Ashley should revoke what he said.
“The key thing we need to do is make sure people wherever possible stay at home. Yes it’s important people exercise but that should be done once a day and it’s a basic thing,” Gove said.
Trade union leader Paddy Lillis had a similar opinion on the matter.
“I can’t see how it [Sports Direct] is an essential service. It’s a sports clothing company,” he said on BBC Today.
During the national shutdown, bicycle shops are one of the retailers that are allowed to operate.