Sports Direct u-turns and announces its stores will close

Sports Direct

Sports Direct has said it will close its stores in a major u-turn after initially calling for its workers to continue selling sports and fitness equipment in the face of coronavirus.

Chris Wootton, chief finance officer of owner Frasers Group, said its Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will not open on Tuesday.

He said in a “clarification” that they will remain shut, despite stating that government policy “excludes bicycle shops from closure”.

Stores will not reopen until “given the go-ahead by the Government”, he added.

The retailer said it is contacting the Government “at all levels” in an attempt to get confirmation from the Prime Minister.

It comes after politicians hit out at the business for its plan to keep stores open after Boris Johnson ordered non-essential shops to close, with Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery telling company majority owner Mike Ashley to “take some responsibility” and “shut up shop”.

Following the Prime Minister’s decree last night that all non-essential retail must close for at least three weeks to helm stem the spread of the virus, it issued a list of those retailers providing vital services that would have permission to open.

They are:

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.

According to the list Evans Cycles is permitted to open, though the company has said it will close, and Sports Direct might have been interpreting the “health” category as covering its category.

The official Government guidelines on which retailers are permitted to open and which must remain shut are outlined here.