March 24, 2020 / 7:23 AM / 7 days ago

Britain's Sports Direct shops plan to stay open amid outbreak despite PM order -BBC

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Sports Direct, Britain’s largest retailer of sports goods, plans to keep its shops open amid the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that sports equipment should be considered essential, media reported citing a senior executive letter to staff.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told all Britons to stay at home to halt the spread of coronavirus on Monday, saying that all but essential shops must shut immediately and people should no longer meet family or friends or risk being fined.

Supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies and bike shops were amongst the services designated essential.

Sports Direct shops would stay open “where possible”, Chris Wootton, the finance chief of the brand’s parent company Frasers Group was quoted by the BBC as saying in the letter.

“There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population,” Wootton said.

Sports Direct, founded by billionaire Mike Ashley, sells sports clothes as well as sports equipment. It has about 700 stores across the UK and continental Europe.

Evans Cycles, also owned by Frasers Group, also plans to stay open, as bicycle shops have been designated as essential. (Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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