Sports Direct to stay open despite special measures to curb coronavirus spread

Shirebrook based Sports Direct say it will keep stores open, despite new government rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

By Danielle Andrews
Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 7:50 am

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, laid out strict new rules yesterday (March 23), and ordered all UK shops selling non-essential goods to close immediately.

Essential shops and services are permitted to stay open, and the UK population has been advised to leave the house as infrequently as possible.

However, Sports Direct said its shops would remain open, as it was "uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible".

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Chris Wootton, finance chief of Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, said in a letter to staff that its shops were vital for keeping the nation exercising.

In his letter, Mr Wootton said: “We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home….. in order for people to remain fit and healthy during this period of isolation, 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).

The Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook

“There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population."

Sports Direct faced backlash on Twitter when they tweeted the PM after his address to ask if the stores should open this morning.

One response said: “Maybe put your services to better use and aid the NHS rather than your 'essential service' of helping people wear lycra at home.”

Another added: “If they decide to remain open they should be charged with corporate manslaughter #BoycottSportsDirect.”

Retailers that will stay open include:

Supermarkets and food shops

Pharmacies

Petrol stations

Newsagents

Bicycle shops

Home and hardware stores

Laundrettes and dry cleaners

Garages

Pet shops

Post Offices

Banks