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Sports Direct bows to pressure from OFT on 'closing down' Sale strategy

Sports Direct has agreed not to mislead consumers over its 'closing down' Sale strategy following discussions with the Office of Fair Trading.

The OFT had received several complaints that Sports Direct was displaying "closing down" adverts in its shop windows for several months, but that some of the stores did not close down, or that they were shut down temporarily for refurbishment.

The OFT said it considered the advertisements to be in breach of the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988. The OFT said that the adverts gave the impression that the shop in question was to close permanently and that consumers only had a short period of time to purchase the goods and that there was only a limited amount of stock available to shoppers.

Although Sports Direct and its subsidiaries Hargreaves (Sports) and Gilesports did not consider their advertisements were misleading, all have agreed to make their advertising clearer. The companies will not publish any advertising which gives the impression that customers only have a limited amount of time to purchase stock and that there is only limited stock available ahead of an intended closure.

In addition, if the store is to just close temporarily, then Sports Direct has agreed to advertise the reason for the closure and the intended dates for the closure to shoppers.

OFT director of consumer protection Mike Haley said: "Consumers searching for bargains should not be misled by claims about closing down promotions. It is important that advertising accurately reflects traders intentions to close business premises, and we therefore welcome the positive response from Sportsdirect.com Retail, Hargreaves and Gilesports."

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