Mike Ashley apologises to Government over ‘ill-judged’ virus response

Ruben Hill
March 27, 2020

Ashley's Sports Direct was absolutely hammered for attempting to describe the outdoors goods chain as an essential business that should stay open amid the crisis - and for whacking up prices as its high street competition closed down - so it's going to take more for his redemption to be rubber stamped by the angels than one nice letter thanking his staff (who now assuredly hate him more than ever).

He said he has offered the group's support to the NHS. Sports Direct, Ashley added, would never intentionally operate against the government's orders and recommendations.

Following the announcement, Ashley wrote to the government proposing that stores of Sports Direct and Evans Cycles - which are both part of his Frasers Group - remain open on the basis they provide the British public with sporting goods which he argued was essential in current circumstances.

So the question is: 'Is Mike Ashley genuine with his apology letter, or is it simply PR damage limitation?'

"The instruction to the gentleman in question and indeed every business is to follow what the government has said, to obey the rules or to expect the consequences", Johnson said in response.

"I am deeply apologetic about the misunderstandings of the last few days", he said. "We will learn from this and will try not to make the same mistakes in the future", he said.

The boss of Frasers Group, which has Sports Direct and House of Fraser in its stable of companies, published an open letter on Friday morning in which he expressed regrets but also offered use of the company's truck fleet to the NHS for the delivery of supplies to fight COVID-19.

"I strongly encourage everyone to follow the government's advice, stay safe and healthy through these challenging times, not least my employees".

"There has been no dress rehearsal for what we as a nation as now tackling, and I for one am immensely proud of how our Government, our NHS and all of our key workers have handled the situation so far".

"We are working very hard to save our business, so that we can continue to be one of the biggest employers on the United Kingdom high street once this pandemic has passed", he added.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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