Sports Direct Boss ‘Deeply’ Sorry for Virus Blunders
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has said he is “deeply apologetic” for a series of blunders in the way his chain has reacted to the coronavirus lockdown. The retailer lobbied the government to keep his shops open, arguing they were an “essential service”, but backed down after a backlash from staff and media.
Mr Ashley admitted ill-judged was “ill judged and poorly timed” and said he would “learn from his mistakes”.
The retail tycoon also offered to lend the NHS his delivery trucks.
In an open letter, Mr Ashley also admitted the firm’s communications to staff and the public were “poor”. “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,” he said.
Sports Direct had argued that it provided an essential service. Bosses at the company said the sports equipment it sells can be used to exercise at home at a time when gyms have been closed.
However, the chain’s initial plan to stay open drew widespread backlash from both politicians and the public.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I can’t see any justification for Sports Direct remaining open.”
It is not the first time Mr Ashley had been criticised over the treatment of workers.
An investigation by The Guardian in 2015 revealed people working at Sports Direct’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire receiving less than the minimum wage because of rigorous searches and surveillance.
Meanwhile, the BBC discovered that ambulances were called out to the site 76 times in two years.