Frasers Group shopworkers face uncertainty over their jobs, after the Mike Ashley-owned chain u-turned on its decision to open stores during coronavirus.
Frasers Group had planned to keep Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores open despite government orders for all non-essential retailers to close, arguing that they were “uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis”.
However, it was forced to backtrack yesterday and said it would close the stores while it seeks “the go-ahead” from the government to continue trading on the high street.
House of Frasers and Jack Wills stores, both part of Frasers Group, have also temporarily closed all stores.
Despite this, Drapers understands some Frasers Group workers were ordered to report to work yesterday, until further notice.
In a message seen by Drapers, employees were told to “continue to arrive at work as scheduled, as agreed with your area manager”.
One employee told Drapers that staff had been told to complete closing checklists, clean the stores, move stock around, complete stock takes, and potentially send some stock back to the warehouse.
It is understood that staff have been told today to stay at home.
In a separate email to staff on Monday evening, Sports Direct chief financial officer Chris Wootton defended its plans to remain open, explaining: ”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.”
Meanwhile, Sports Direct has been accused of hiking the price of some sports equipment by as much as 50%. This includes skipping ropes and weights, according to a document seen by the Press Association.
A spokesman for the retailer said: “While some goods have seen an increase in price at Sports Direct, this is not the complete or accurate picture. Not only were these goods originally discounted, but even now they are under the RRP.
“In regard to the rest of the group facias – including Flannels, House of Fraser and USC – there continues to be a 20% discount on all online sales until mid-April.”
Frasers Group has been contacted for further comment.