Backlash over retailer Sports Direct as boss asks Boris: ‘Should we close?’

PUBLISHED: 09:21 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:21 24 March 2020

Sports Direct in Norwich. Pic: Archant

Sports Direct in Norwich. Pic: Archant


A row has broken out over whether Sports Direct and Evans Cycles should close over coronavirus after the retailer made a plea to the prime minister.

The government stated all “non-essential” shops should close as the fight against coronavirus is stepped up.

Until now, the stores, with branches across Norfolk, owned by businessman Mike Ashley’s Fraser Group, have stayed open. Today its chief finance officer posted a letter to the prime minister asking if they should close.

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Evans Cycles in Norwich. Pic: Evans CyclesEvans Cycles in Norwich. Pic: Evans Cycles

The letter by Chris Wootton attracted widespread criticism on Twitter. He stated: “As the government rightly recognises in its guidance on social distancing, looking after physical and mental wellbeing during the unprecedented period of social isolation will be extremely important. We would like confirmation as to whether our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles fascias should open?”

Michael Gove, cabinet office minister, said in a TV interview he could see “no justification” for the stores staying open.

Meanwhile people voiced their disgust that Mr Ashley did not seem to be heeding government advice.

One tweeted: “I can’t see any justification for Sports Direct staying open.” Another: “Sports Direct is not essential.”

Sports Direct has two stores in Norwich and one in Yarmouth. Evans Cycles is also in Norwich.

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