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.
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 only essential journeys should be made by key workers.
He also said people could leave home for exercise, but only while maintaining social distancing.