Frasers Group has U-turned on an announcement that Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores were to stay open during the UK’s new lockdown measures, and will now not open stores until it receives the “go-ahead” from the government.
In a message to staff yesterday [23 March], the group had said it was “uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis”, and that where possible stores would remain open, with social distancing policies in place for staff.
However, the group has now said it will not open stores “until we are given the go-ahead by the government”.
Yesterday evening, prime minister Boris Johnson announced sweeping new measures aimed at slowing the spread of the pandemic, saying that UK residents should only leave their homes in the following circumstances:
- To shop for basic necessities including food and medicine
- For one form of exercise a day; either alone or with members of your household
- For any medical needs or to provide care or help the vulnerable
- To travel to and from work, only when necessary
As part of these measures, all non-essential shops – including fashion stores – must close.
In the message to its staff, chief financial officer Chris Wootton said: “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.”
“There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population.”
There are 540 Sports Direct and Evans Cycles locations across the UK, particularly concentrated outside London.