Sports Direct boss apologises for poor comms and ‘ill-judged’ attempt to keep stores open

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has apologised for his "ill-judged and poorly-timed" attempt to keep his shops open during the coronavirus outbreak.

(L-R) Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United FC, with Lee Charnley, the club's MD, at a Premier League match
(L-R) Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United FC, with Lee Charnley, the club's MD, at a Premier League match

Boss of parent firm Frasers Group, Ashley was widely criticised after he told Sports Direct staff to head into work despite the government ordering all non-essential stores to close earlier this week.

The retailer had initially claimed that its position selling sporting and fitness equipment was "vital" during self-isolation to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

In an open letter Ashley said he was "deeply apologetic" over his initial response to the lockdown.

He eventually U-turned after pressure from MPs.

He said: "In hindsight, our emails to the Government were ill-judged and poorly-timed, when they clearly had much greater pressures than ours to deal with."

He added: “On top of this, our communications to our employees and the public on this was poor.”

Ashley ends his letter with a commitment to support the NHS by offering his company's "entire fleet of lorries" for deliveries.

He said: "Outside of Frasers Group, I have offered our support to the NHS and we are poised and ready for when that offer is accepted, with our entire fleet of lorries at their disposal – to help deliver medical equipment and supplies.

"This offer is not limited to the NHS but all key workforces across the Government. We will help wherever possible."

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