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Sports Direct and Evans Cycles to stay open as bosses say staff are key workers
23 March 2020

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, according to an email seen by the PA news agency.

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 this evening.

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 Ashley, signed off: “Thanks for your incredible efforts during this time.”

The Prime Minister said restrictions would be tightened up so only essential journeys should be made by key workers.

He also said people could leave home for exercise once a day either along or members of their household, but only while maintaining social distancing.

The Government's list of vital retail stores is as follows:

Supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks.

Other retailers, apart from Sports Direct, are vying to achieve "essential retail" status including Dixons Carphone, which said it provides vital technology services and repairs, Halfords, which sells car parts, and The Original Factory Shop.

**UPDATE** Parent company Frasers Group has now said that both Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, which would have been permitted to remain open, are to close. The company has said it will be seeking clarification form the Government and would only open stores when it was permitted to do so.

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