High Street

Mike Ashley apologises for ‘ill-judged’ Covid-19 response

Sports Direct CEO Mike Ashley has penned an open letter apologising for the Fraser Group’s response to the Covid-19 lockdown.

It comes after reports that Ashley lobbied the government to keep Sports Direct open and was still asking employees to still come to work at the high street retailer.

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah raised the issue during this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions (25 March), and said: “The people of Newcastle are desperately trying to do the right thing, although my inbox tells me they are angry, confused, running out of money, isolated and stranded in some cases.

“However, not all businesses are doing the right thing and I am particularly thinking of Mike Ashley forcing workers into empty Sports Direct shops. The prime minister said that businesses should stand with their staff. What is his message to those who don’t?”

Ashley said it was “necessary” to address and apologise for much of what has been reported across various media outlets regarding his “personal actions and those of the Frasers Group business”.

He said: “Our intentions were only to seek clarity from the Government as to whether we should keep some of our stores open; we would never have acted against their advice.

“In hindsight, our emails to the Government were ill-judged and poorly timed, when they clearly had much greater pressures than ours to deal with. On top of this, our communications to our employees and the public on this was poor.”

He added: “Finally, to reiterate, I am deeply apologetic about the misunderstandings of the last few days. We will learn from this and will try not to make the same mistakes in the future.”

Outside of Frasers Group, Ashley has also offered support to the NHS by offering its entire fleet of lorries to help deliver medical equipment and supplies. He said this offer is not limited to the NHS but all key workforces across the Government.

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